2002 October 07 Monday
Jeffrey Goldberg on Islamic contempt and anger

Slate is into their third week of a debate between various of their writers on whether to attack Iraq. I think the debate starts here. The second week of the debate starts here.

The most knowledgeable participant in the Slate debate is Jeffrey Goldberg. To get a sense of his knowledge of the region (and for a very enlightening read) read his excellent essay Inside Jihad U. : The Education of a Holy Warrior originally published in the NY Times Magazine on June 25, 2000. You can also find it here on the Indian Embassy web site. Goldberg's account of his visit to Egypt is educational as well (note: PDF format).

Goldberg's judgement below about the nature of Muslim anger and contempt toward America is one I fully share. From Jeffrey Goldberg's Oct 7, 2002 post:

I left Pakistan and Afghanistan believing that America had done nothing to alienate the Taliban or these madrasah boys: Their hate was independent of American action. In fact, these fundamentalists owed the United States their thanks: It was the United States that supported them during the fight against the Soviets; the food many of them ate came to them courtesy of USAID, and many of the men I met who spoke English learned their English from American teachers, funded by American taxpayers. Their hatred of America, I realized, was rooted in their culture, in the theology of Islamic supremacy, in their jealousy and rage at American success.

I also noticed another emotion present in these men: contempt. They were contemptuous of America and Americans; they found us weak and unmanly, they found our culture corrupt and perverted, and I don't have to tell you what they thought of American women.

It was after a couple of months in Pakistan and Afghanistan that I began to realize that these forces of Islamic fundamentalism had already declared war on us; that there was nothing left for us to do but fight them; and that by not fighting them, we were convincing them we were without virtue, strength, or courage.

Robert Wright took a different message away from my reporting: The best thing to do would be to leave these people alone and hope they go away. But what he failed to understand is that we provoked them by not provoking them.

Of course I recognize that an invasion of Iraq will cause some people to hate us more than they already do, but I also recognize that their hatred of America will not dissipate—and that their contempt may intensify—if we do not take strong action against Iraq.

Update: In an interview that Goldberg made about his trip to Egypt he remarked on Egyptian newspaper Holocaust denial:

JEFFREY GOLDBERG: I'm entirely comfortable saying that if Hosni Mubarak did not want Holocaust denial to run in government newspapers or any newspapers in Egypt, he could make sure that Holocaust denial wouldn't run in the newspapers! So then you have to ask the question: why is it being allowed to run? They do it to keep their attention away from failing education system and a failing infrastructure. If the people are angry at Israel, they'll have less time to be angry about the conditions of their own lives.

Update: Also see my other posts on Jeffrey Goldberg's writings: Jeffrey Goldberg on Hezbollah, Jeffrey Goldberg on the Palestinians And Israeli Settlers, and Jeffrey Goldberg On Terrorism and Intelligence Work.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 October 07 01:33 PM  Civilizations Clash Of

M Kramer said at November 4, 2002 9:52 PM:

Is there a place ONLINE to read Jeffrey Goldberg's new article in The New Yorker about Hezbolah? It is supposed to be great!
See the URL above for a review.

Donald Marshall said at April 24, 2003 4:44 PM:

I heard about an article in the NY Times titled "The Brains Behind Bush's War Policy" written by Todd S. Purdum (02/01/03).
I Also heard about it on National Public Radio. But I have been unable to find any other documentation. I know you are a very
busy man but if you have any further information or documention on this subject I would very much appreciate it.
Thank you for your consideration.
Donald Marshall

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