A common question in relation to the middle east in these times is "why do they hate us". The political talking point thrown around by neoconservatives and assorted war-mongers is "they hate us for our freedom". Of course, anyone with the slightest bit of intellect and knowledge of the history of the middle east and U.S. foreign policy knows that this claim is beyond laughable.
With the ridiculous "war on terrorism" in full gear, it seems that the intentions and reasoning of "the enemy" is completely overlooked. Nobody seems to stop and question exactly why the middle east is so angry with the west. So much time is spent by the government manufacturing fear that many people don't dare to take a serious look into precisely why the middle east is going bonkers.
But the answer is rather common sense - people don't like outsiders intervening in their internal affairs. In the post-WWII era, the U.S. and various western governments have a long track record of wars and assorted foreign interventions. It seems that once the smoke cleared after WWII, America took on the role as the world police. Ever since then, we have essentially been in a state of perpetual war, with a new foreign engtanglement every few years.
There was the cold war, of course. There were a long series of wars and military operations (both well-known and lesser known) such as Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Kosovo, Somalia, Desert Storm, etc. Yet the cumulative result of these interventions has been nothing but the mass destruction of lives, property and dollars. I cannot think of a single positive thing that these entanglements have yielded.
The U.S. government has been intervening heavily in the middle east for decades. In 1952, the CIA ousted Iran's elected leader and placed the Shah in power as a puppet dictator. Extensive military bases have been established. Foreign dictators and power figures such as Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden themselves were once in the U.S. tax-payer dole through foreign aid.
The government has provided military weapons to foreign governments that were then used on the citezens of those countries or on their neighbors. The left and right are not very different in this respect - Democrats tend to fund left-wing tyrants while engaging in wars against right-wing ones, while Republicans tend to fund right-wing tyrants while engaging in wars against left-wing ones.
Numerous "regime change" tyrades have been played out. The government funds foreign elections in hope of "democracy" and they get Hezbolla and a Shite theocracy. So much for democracy being a valuable tool for peace and stability. You wanted democracy, and you got democracy - and democracy gave you trouble. Billions of dollars are sent to foreign governments in the name of good intentions, but they amount to nothing but the support of dictatorships and socialist governments.
It is well-documented and obvious that the U.S. government has been directly supporting tyranny abroad for decades. The strange irony is that we then use the very tyrannies that our tax dollars supported as a reason to impose our own tyrannies on these regions through more wars and interventions - hence the Bush Adminstration citing the tyrannies of Saddam that the government supported and funded in the first place as some kind of justification for the war in Iraq.
To add insult to injury, what impression do you think a Muslim gets when they see our president use the word "crusade"? While some Muslim's paranoia about Christianity taking over their region is unjustified, the religious right's statements and actions only reinforce such paranoia - and of course the very fact that the west is present in the region. Simply put, they view the west and Christianity as waging war on them (at least the west is doing just that), and our prescence there only reinforces this view to them. What seems extra alarming to me is that many on the religious right actually do seem to believe that this is a Christian war on the Muslim religion, and thus they stoop to the same level as the radical Muslims.
So, why are people in the middle east so angry at the west? Well, "we" oust their leaders, impose puppet dictators, pick sides in factional disputes, establish extensive military bases, provide weapons that are used on them, invade their countries and grab their natural resources. It must be remembered that the modern governments and borders of the modern middle east, including Israel (and yes, they did displace thousands of Palestians from their private property in the process) and Iraq (it was a mistake to put the Kurds, Sunnis and Shias all into one nation), were original established by the British after WWII. Such intervention is precisely what set the stage for the modern scene in the middle east. Add the fact that there is a policy of unquestioning support for Israel on top of that, and we have the ingredients for wide resentment for the west.
What should one expect? How would an American feel if France did such things to America? How would an American feel if China invaded our land, disarmed our citezenry, installed a puppet dictator and supported that dictator's tyranical actions against us? How would an American feel if Germany stepped in and picked the side of the creationists over the "evolutionists" in the ridiculous cultural battle over the public schools? How would an American feel if their people were killed with bombs that said "made in Japan" on them? How would an Ohian feel if the British government displaced them from their homes to replace them with refugees from Africa? They'd rightly be enraged and driven to resist it. Yet this is precisely the kind of thing that America does to other countries.
It's really simple. It's a matter of how human beings work. Human beings don't like others interfering in their personal matters. You wouldn't want someone to arbitrarily walk into your home. You wouldn't want that person to then "set the rules" for your household. You certainly wouldn't want them to pick sides in family disputes. No, you'd want this intruder out of your house immediately and you would likely do everything you could to get them out. They would be violating your property rights. Yet blow such an example up to the level of an entire nation, and it should be clear how insane this is.
The best thing we can do to ease hostility and create peace is to actually set an example ourselves - an example of non-intervention, trade and non-aggression. The current example is one of empire, protectionism and aggression, and we therefore should not be surprised when others react in kind. It should be rather common sense that if foreign intervention and war leads to hostility and violence, then non-intervention and peace will lead to the conditions in which such atrocities perish.
If the western governments wouldn't have been intervening into other people's property for decades, these problems wouldn't exist, or by the very least they would be greatly minimal in comparison to the modern situation. Don't want terrorism? Don't want insurgencies? Don't want tyranny? Don't want people acting aggressively towards you? Then stop supporting tyranny abroad and stop acting tyrannically, stop aggressing against others. It's as simple as: Mind your own buisiness, don't infringe on other people's property (and it really does all step from property rights). Non-aggression - what a concept!