Will the West ever learn? Given the explosion of anger over the anti-Islamic film produced and posted on YouTube by a bigot living in the United States, it appears not.
The shock in Washington which has met the killing of the US ambassador to Libya along with members of his staff in Benghazi calls to mind the words of former US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, who in response to the widespread looting and lawlessness that enveloped Iraq during the heady initial days of the US-led invasion, said: ""Stuff happens... and it's untidy and freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things."
A policy of military and political intervention throughout the Arab and Muslim world, motivated not by a desire to spread freedom and democracy, or by the objective of upholding human rights, but by a desire and determination to retain an iron grip on the region's natural resources and ensure strategic hegemony as part of an overarching global reach, has failed and will continue to fail to achieve anything other than instability and a growing reservoir of anger towards the West's double standards, hypocrisy, and domination.
What we are now seeing unfold is the inevitable consequences of western intervention in what began as an organic revolutionary process in the region. It began in Tunisia, spread to Egypt, and was then co-opted lest the kind of freedom it resulted in was not compatible with western interests - code for hegemony.
In Iraq there is chaos. In Afghanistan there is chaos. In Libya there is chaos. In Syria there is chaos. Wherever the West intervenes, either directly or indirectly, chaos is the result. The historical charge sheet is too long and damning for any amount of propaganda to refute in this regard.
The insult felt by what for most looking on from outside seems a relatively trivial attack on a particular religion reflects the deep sense of humiliation and powerlessness in the face of the decades-long economic, military, and cultural weight of the West, led by the United States, on the Muslim and Arab world. It has driven more and more Muslims to embrace religion as a protective blanket, a shield against the many and manifold depredations of western domination over their lives in various ways.
Compounding this process is the ongoing injustice of Israel's dogged refusal to budge one inch from its policy of apartheid, occupation and expropriation vis-à-vis the Palestinians, able to do so with the unconditional backing of the United States. It is in this context that the raw anger we've seen unleashed has to be considered and understood.
Yet for all that the blinkers will no doubt remain fixed firmly in place when it comes to dealing with the fall out from this latest eruption of anti-western sentiment.
When Obama was elected in 2008 hopes for a new approach by Washington to the Arab and Muslim world were great. Moreover, his grandiose words and pledges to the region suggested they were entirely justified. Yet four years on the first black president has proved less a reincarnation of Martin Luther King as Al Capone, with his weekly kill lists and regular drone attacks on suspected militants in Pakistan slaughtering hundreds of innocent people - men, women, and children - while maiming and terrorising many more. Judicial murder, the violation of sovereignty, and a blatant disregard for the lives and human rights of innocent people in Pakistan's tribal areas is the Obama administration's contribution to peace during its first term in office. Yet compared to his rival for the White House in November, Mitt Romney, he appears like Gandhi.
Romney and the Republican Party he leads are committed to joining with hawks within the Israeli political and security establishment in pursuing a hard line policy towards Iran, making the prospect of full scale war more likely than it is now. The Republicans believe there is no problem that can't solved with Cruise missiles. The idea of diplomacy is anathema to a party of right wing, God fearing extremists in a political culture that has grown increasingly polarized over the past decade between the mad and bad.
When are governments in the West going to wake up to the fact that the only way to prevent terrorism is to cease practising or supporting it? State terrorism begets non-state terrorism, and so on. Unfortunately, there seems little appetite on the part of those in positions of power to do anything other than repeat the same old lies and justifications for the West's self evident manifest destiny as the 'decider' in the inimitable words of George W Bush, which means that nothing will change anytime soon. One set of extremists have forged another set of extremists. The only difference between them is that the scale and scope of the carnage caused by the former exceeds that of the latter by a gigantic margin.
These violent protests and scenes of uncontained anger are not only in reaction to a bigoted, anti-Islamic film. They are the latest manifestation of a world in which the doctrine of might is right is lent legitimacy by the word democracy.
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