Stephen M. Walt, the famously anti-Israeli Harvard Professor is at it again. Just as President Obama is sending an additional 30,000 fighting men to prevent the takeover of Afghanistan by the types of Muslims who throw acid in women’s faces and kill little girls for going to school, he chimes in with this helpful piece of mendacious agitprop:
The estimable Cliff May has countered some of this rot here but I want to take this on from a different aspect. On its own terms it is idiocy.
First, why was there a war in 1990-1991 when Professor Walt’s death count begins? Did not Saddam Hussein invade Kuwait, an entirely Muslim country, and begin killing men, raping women and exiling the entire ruling class? Did this not offend Muslims? Why, yes it did! Saudi Arabia, keeper of the shrines of Mecca and Medina, invited in the U.S. and a coalition comprising even Syria, to retake Kuwait and drive Saddam out of the little Gulf State. Most of the members of the Arab League backed the war and, as with Syria, participated in it. The main reason we stopped short of deposing Saddam was precisely to stop the ground war in 100 hours, mostly at the behest of those self-same Arabs. So, an international coalition, including all of the Arab world except the Palestinians aided the U.S. in getting rid of the anti-Islamic Saddam Hussein from an independent Moslem country and this is supposed to have increased Arab grievance?
Second, approval of America is usually higher in Iraq than it is in Egypt. It is typically higher in Kuwait than it is in Jordan. We have killed virtually no Egyptians or Jordanians, and a number of people in Kuwait and Iraq. What could account for the difference? You could play this game with many other states in the Arab world. The number of deaths is simply not comparable to America approval.
Third, where are the numbers for the British and French? They have killed many, many Moslems in the last 50 years but seem to have higher approval rates than America. The Danes have killed almost no Moslems or Arabs in the last 50 years but have a very bad reputation in the Arab world. Why would that be? They allowed cartoons to be published!
Fourth, the world’s most populous majority Moslem country is Indonesia. In 2006, while America was preparing the surge and fighting in Afghanistan and George W. Bush was President, America’s approval there was dramatically improved. This is dramatic evidence that it is local factors and press and not some amorphous view of America’s death toll against enemies that drives Moslem approval or disapproval.
Professor Walt puts in the caveats that he was for the first Gulf War and fighting the Taliban but the deaths can’t be ignored as the reason why America is in bad odor in that part of the world. Far be it from me to defend Tom Friedman who Walt is attacking in this piece, but it sure seems that Jordanian, Egyptian, and Moroccan hostility to the U.S. has little to do with how many Arabs have died in wars against the United States. It is support for their governments that drives the popular dislike of us in those places, combined with the U.S. position that Israel be allowed to exist.
Walt, a professor at Harvard no less, makes no effort to test his theory. Where is the graph of Arab approval of the U.S. versus Arab deaths by country? Where is the graph of the Arab/Moslem view of countries besides the United States? Even by its own premises this argument is a bust. I have little doubt the approval of the United States in Germany and Japan was higher in 1960 than in 1939. In the interim we had killed hundreds of thousands of Germans and Japanese. The difference was regime change and a change in the population’s tolerance for tyranny. Mr. Walt might take a lesson.