In the wake of U.S. aid to help Muslim and other victims of the recent tsunami, Colin Powell suggested that maybe, now that the Muslim world had seen “American generosity” and “American values in action,” it wouldn’t be so hostile to America.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for a thank-you card. If the fact that American soldiers have risked their lives to save the Muslims of Bosnia, the Muslims of Kuwait, the Muslims of Somalia, the Muslims of Afghanistan and the Muslims of Iraq has earned the U.S. only the false accusation of being “anti-Muslim,” trust me, U.S. troops passing out bottled water and Pop-Tarts in Indonesia are not going to erase that lie. It is not an exaggeration to say that, if you throw in the Oslo peace process, U.S. foreign policy for the last 15 years has been dominated by an effort to save Muslims – not from tsunamis, but from tyrannies, mostly their own theocratic or autocratic regimes.
It clearly has not made much of an impression. So you will pardon me if I say that I don’t care whether the state media in Saudi Arabia – whose government gave far less to the Muslim tsunami victims ($30 million) than the amount spent by King Fahd’s entourage on his last two vacations in Marbella (reportedly $100 million) – say nice things about us.
Say it, say it agin, and keep preaching it, because it is the truth.
It’s interesting to watch the way Friedman waxes and wanes in and out of fashion with each side of the aisle. I’ve been a fan since his days as bureau chief in Lebannon and Jerusalem, and his subsequent books. I was pleased to shake his hand and chat for a few moments at a talk he gave in Boston during the late Nineties. I don’t always agree with him, of course — is there anyone we ever agree with 100%? — but I’ve always held him in considerable respect, no matter the fashion of the day regarding him.