Monday, April 9, 2007

Arabs and the lesson of personal responsibility

As I drove home today, I listened to a story on National Public Radio about a demonstration by thousands of Iraqis to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the fall of Saddam Hussein. In it, they interviewed some Iraqi citizens who were complaining about the effects of the war on their lives. One, named Mohammed, characterized the day of Saddam's fall as the fall of the Arab around the world, placing the blame squarely on the American's invasion for soiling Arab respectability around the world.

Beg to differ there, Mohammed!

You see, if anyone was responsible for the lack of respect Arabs get around the world, it is Arabs themselves. It is not American soldiers or our government who have turned the Arabs into willing participants in the jihadist activities of their more radical brethren. America does not hate Arabs, and we do not want to kill Arabs. And Christians and Jews, by and large, do not hate Islam. We don't really care what you believe, until what you believe leads thousands to proclaim that Islam means jihad against non-Muslims. If you want to kill us, well then, by golly, we're going to have to fight back, and hopefully kill as many of you first.

I fucking can't stand President Bush and his lying co-conspirators in their immoral war. But let's be honest about this: a war between the Christian God and the Muslim God it is not. It is a war over nothing more than money. Oil reserves that would keep our greedy corporations in the black for decades to come. Do you think we really want to spread democracy and freedom? Sure, but only if it means that we get our hands on their oil! Revenge against Saddam for trying to kill Bush's daddy? Sure, but Saddam's dead now; that wasn't the primary reason for our invasion. Billions of dollars in war-profiteering by Halliburton and other large US corporations. It's so brazen that Halliburton is now moving its headquarters to Dubai. All part of the plan -- get as close to that oil as possible. If we're lucky enough to gain some security foothold in Iraq, they'll even open a satellite operation in Basra or Kirkuk or some other "safe" city. How can it not be?

And Iraqis? What of them? Well, what the fuck? Don't you people want to make money? Don't you want to have schools, roads, clean water, reliable electrical service, and NO FUCKING BOMBS in your streets? Of course you do! Don't listen to the assholes in your community who think that life was better in the 12th fucking century. You think they have any plans for health care, utilities, monetary stability, international trade? No. As someone said on NPR last week, this kind of stuff doesn't ever occur to Osama bin Laden. They have no plan beyond jihad and possession of nuclear weaponry to go up against the US. It is because of this that the cause of this war has any semblance of legitimacy. However, we're shooting at the wrong targets. We're not spending enough money getting to the real enemy.

But Arabs? It's all our fault. They are peace-loving, simple folk who want nothing more than to pray their five prayers a day, eat no pork, subjugate their women (and create rich welfare states like the one in Kuwait). We're trying to undermine their beloved religion by simply existing on their land.

Here's what I want to teach my sons: Never blame somebody when it's much easier to take the blame yourself. In my life, I make plenty of mistakes. But if there is ever the temptation to lay the blame for my fuck-ups on others, I resist it. Why? Because accountability is what makes me great. I take the heat when things go wrong because that's the right thing to do. Not only that, it builds trust so that I get the most challenging work, the best business deals, the most money. I shine. I satisfy my ego even while I honor my commitments and build solid relationships.

And yet, it is Mohammed's idea that he shouldn't take any responsibility for how his people are perceived in the world. If it weren't for that imperialist, Christian American hegemony, his lot in life would be so much better. Just to leave them alone to wage sectarian war against themselves.

He and all Arabs should own that THEY let bin Laden get too powerful. THEY let Moqtada al-Sadr become too prominent a voice for Arabs. THEY chose to ignore the wisdom of the kings of Jordan, as well as Ataturk. THEY chose to kill Sadat and Hariri, the most visionary voices in the modern Arab world. Instead, THEY chose to let a rich kid from Saudi Arabia exploit the poor all over the Arab world to satisfy his Hitlerian vision of world domination. THEY chose to let his voice be the loudest. THEY even chose to let a Persian madman like Ahmedinejad upstage them as the voice of Islamist power, in the hopes that he'll become nuclear and nuke Israel.

What insane pride. What ridiculous religiosity. I'm reminded of the former Iraqi information minister who, as tanks were rolling into downtown Baghdad, was going on TV to proclaim that Saddam's victory was at hand ("God will roast their stomachs in hell.") This is the essence of Arab egocentrism. So fuck 'em.