Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Dr. Leon Hadar -- Anti-Americanism in the Arab World

This link is not everyone's cup of tea, but anyone who follows events in the Middle East should read it. Hadar's take on how and why US policy has created more problems than it has solved is an iron-clad piece of analysis. Those guys at the Cato Institute are pretty sharp. And in Dr. Hadar's case, funny, too.

In 1977, when I got to New York, there was a lot of excitement in the city. On Broadway, the hit, A Chorus Line was playing. There was Studio 54 and the launching of a new television show, Saturday Night Live. John Travolta was doing the disco on Saturday Night Fever and everyone was wearing polyester suits. And there was... Woody Allen.

For me – personally, and for many members of my generation – Americans and non-Americans -- the movie producer and actor Woody Allen and his artistic energy and sense of humor was and continues to personify that New York that I love and its great spirit.

So I was not surprised a few weeks after 9/11 to read in the New Yorker an interview with an Iranian woman by the name of Ava who was in love with America and who told the writer Joe Klein how devastated she felt watching the images from New York on 9/11:

"Do you want to know what I was really worried about? Woody Allen. I didn't want him to die. I wanted to know that he was all right. I love his films."

Now... since 9/11 America has lost Ava from Tehran -- she lost that loving feeling towards the United States -- as well as the hearts and minds of most Iranians, Iraqis, Egyptians, Turks and many, many others in the Middle East and around the world.

My guess is that Ava remains a fan of Woody Allen. Who knows? Perhaps Osama bin Ladin --- hiding in a cave in Pakistan -- is watching Annie Hall on his plasma television screen and enjoying that unique New York Jewish humor...

But it's not about Woody Allen. It's not about the Way We Were in 1977 or in 1991. It's not about – to quote President Bush -- Who We Are. It's About the Policy, Stupid! In this case, it's about U.S. Policy in the Middle East.

And he procedes to explain how US policy in the Middle East has whiplashed a time or two in recent years, resulting in a raging anti-Americanism at the political level that shines in sharp counterpoint to a basic pro-American sentiments of ordinary people. No need for me to parse here what he said. Interested readers can read for themselves. I find his analysis clear, constructive, reasonable and accurate. In other words, I expect few people in Washington will get it.

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