Friends and Enemies


The Washington Post provides a window on how war fever has changed the views of once pro-American Arabs. In Cairo, Said Naggar is crushed.

"I feel we have been deceived about the nature and character of the United States of America," he said.

Remarkably, these are the words of a friend. Naggar is a World Bank veteran who quotes the Declaration of Independence and whose son is a U.S. citizen. His library is stocked with works of Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and "all the great founders." He lived for 17 years in Washington, where he says he never felt like a foreigner, and still longs for the city's intellectual and artistic life and his favorite Asian restaurants.

In 1991, he founded a group called the New Civic Forum "to promote the ideas and ideals of the United States of America." Today, the very thought gives rise to a long, boisterous laugh.

"I still believe in these values," he said, wiping his eyes, "but I don't call them American ideals anymore."

The Naggars of the world have been a strategic U.S. asset. Looks like the casualty list already has some MIAs.

NEXT: More Bones of Contention

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  1. If liberated Iraqis turn out to be wildly, cheeringly pro-American, everything will be fine. If not, then start to worry.

  2. Hasn’t Saddam made it pretty clear he hates all (living) Jews and would wipe out Isreal if he could? I thought it was common knowledge Saddam pays the families of terrorists? To me, that makes him a threat to anyone not wanting to have their arms and legs blown off. And no, I don’t consider the “Palestinians” to be freedom fighters any more than I would consider native American Indians to be freedom fighters if they did the same thing in the United States today.

    I thought Saddam actual invasion of Kuwait and potential invasion of Saudi Arabia was a threat to the U.S. and the rest of the industrial world, which would like to continue to buy oil at free-market prices. No?

    “There is no reason to believe a peaceful, democratic, and stable government will ever be able to rule Iraq..”

    What the hell is that? Are you saying Iraqis are too stupid or savage to set up a decent, modern, law-based society?

    “The only reason Sadam has to attack us is that we are attacking him (and supporting Israel)”

    Saddam “has” to attack us because we support Isreal? HAS to? I take it the taliban “has” to attack us because we disrespect their faith by letting women learn to read?

    “If we weren’t demanding regime change, imposing sanctions, and enforcing no-fly zones. Iraq would court us as consumer of their oil.”

    Couldn’t disagree more. If we were not demanding regime change, imposing sanctions, and enforcing no-fly zones, Iraq would would be selling us somebody elses oil at an artificialy inflated price. What do you think his behavior would have been if we had just escorted him out of Kuwait and then left?

    Think how screwed our economy would have been if we did not liberate Kuwait, but rather let Saddam continue his price-fixing conquest of the oil-rich world.

    Think we should leave South Korea, eh? LOL, that would be interesting!

  3. Seeing as we only get about 12% to 14% of our oil from the middle east, I don’t think our economy would very “screwed” at all.

    The irony of this potential conflict is that its purported purpose is to contain the proliferation of WMD’s. However our action will do just the opposite. Every two bit dictator in the world is paying very close attention to the way we handle Iraq (no nukes) as opposed to N. Korea (nukes) or other nuclear dictatorships (Pakistan). Its painfully obvious now that the only way to keep U.S. power at bay is to possess nukes. Iran is certainly paying attention. They just penned a deal to acquire nuclear technology capable of producing enriched uranium.

    So what’s the lesson here? If you don’t have nukes, the U.S. will kick your ass with impunity. If you do have nukes, well, here’s some more food aid for ya!

    I wonder whose wearing the rose colored glasses.

  4. The difference between North Korea and Iraq is that Iraq wants nukes as an offensive, first strike weapon. North Korea, Pakistan, India, et al are using them as defensive weapons. NK doesn’t have aspirations of regional hegemony. China already pretty much owns that one. Saddam does. Saddam has also shown his willingness to use WMD. Against Iran, the Kurds and possibly US Troops during Desert Storm. That’s a pretty good indicator he’d use nukes as a first strike.

  5. Hank, some may wear rose colored glasses, but at least they’re not wearing blinders.

    It’s NOT about oil. If it was, why didn’t we “keep” it all the first time? And attacking a country doesn’t make getting the oil easier or cheaper (plus, if it did, it only increases supply which lowers prices).

    As for how much the Iraqi’s will “hate us”, no more than the first time. There was no Arab uprising there. And we weren’t attacking Saddam when Sept 11th happened, so….

  6. Whatthehell is our oil doing under their sand?

  7. I can’t keep up with all the points that strike me as ‘divorced from reality’ being made by the hawks. So I will try a new tact.
    Al-Qaeda is a real enemy that poses a real threat and has already demonstrated a willingness to attack us. As well as a desire to do mass destruction.
    Iraq and Al-Qaeda are natural enemies. By attacking Iraq we could push them into an alliance. Sadam may provide them with money and arms, whereas he would never consider doing so other wise because they’d as likely use them against him as us. Furthermore EVERYTHING about attacking Iraq benefits Al-Qaeda.
    Massive expense will weaken US economy.
    A portion of the money paid to regional states in foreign-aid bribes for support of the U.S. will be redirected into the hands of Islamic fanatics.
    Lack of international coalition fosters resentment of U.S. to varying degrees around the globe.
    Attacking an Islamic country from Saudi Arabia is the best recruiting propaganda they could ever hope for.
    Therefore by attacking Iraq the United States of America becomes an ally of Al-Qaeda in the Jihad.

  8. Lefty,

    I feel your pain. I think the same thing
    about our oil trapped under the frozen plains of Alberta. They’re next cause it’s all about oil…

  9. Regarding other countries trying to acquire WMD, it seems to me that the anti-war group has this backwards. If the US knows that the Saddam is trying to acquire WMD and does nothing, that is the ultimate green light for other countries to go forward with their own plans with impunity.

    Further, I think it was self evident to those countries that even before the US confronted Saddam that once a county acquires WMD, then we are in a whole new ball game, effectively MAD. That is when they can hold us hostage.

    If we do nothing, I imagine a day when Saddam could hold us hostage in a whole series of situations. Or, alternatively, he could hide their existence and work with terrorists to set off a nuclear bomb in Israel. What is more, we would be completely hamstrung fighting the symptom (the terrorists) and not the ultimate source of the weapons. We almost certainly could not prove it was him since we would lack a smoking gun and he could point to a number of other potential sources.

    Regarding “colonialism” in South Korea, Bosnia, et al, does anyone doubt that they could force us to leave? They have ultimate say over their country and the US will and has respected that.

    I suppose if you do not think Saddam would ever do anything bad to the US or Israel or ever work with a terrorist group (al Queda or some other group), then I could see you are against this war. For me, I do not have that view of Saddam.


  10. quote:

    “Attacking an Islamic country from Saudi Arabia is the best recruiting propaganda they could ever hope for.

    Therefore by attacking Iraq the United States of America becomes an ally of Al-Qaeda in the Jihad.”

    I have a different view. I think people in the Middle East may not like the US, but they respect power. Osama bin Laden himself has said when people see a strong horse and a weak one, they choose the strong one.


  11. If 9/11 was a show of respect, I’d hate to see what disrespect looks like.

    You don’t seriously think kicking Iraq’s ass _again_ is going to generate any more US-friendly sentiment in the region than it did the first time, do you?

  12. Oh please, anyone who cannot fathom why the US would want to defend itself was not a true ally anyway. It is disappointing that this guy feels the way he does, but I do not want to see the US put American lives in danger to appease moderates in the Arab world.


  13. “‘I still believe in these values,’ he said, wiping his eyes, ‘but I don’t call them American ideals anymore.'”

    You gotta be kidding me.

  14. If you’d read the article, J.P., you’d see that his reasons for souring on the U.S. government has absolutely nothing to do with our right to defend ourselves. Most people do not see the coming war in Iraq as a war of self-defense. (And they’re right.)

  15. The important thing for all of us is to realize that not every American, whatever his or her rank, has an automatic claim to representing American ideals in his or her person. The way the Bush administration is handling this conflict is first and foremost anti-American. One can only hope that the true America will wake up soon enough to wrench its country from the grasp of the current rulers.

  16. I am not an avid supporter of this war, but my discontent is driven more from fear and resignation than opposition to the principle of the thing. Saddam is a rogue and a tyrant, and simply because it has been long-standing American policy to ignore and appease outlaws like Saddam doesn’t mean we can’t reassess that policy from time to time. Does anyone, including Naggar, truly believe Saddam won’t grow into a greater menace in the years to come? Bush has done a terrible job convincing me that this war is necessary right now, but men like Naggar don’t exactly bolster my opposition to it, either.

  17. How is it inconsistent with American ideals to depose a dictator? Maybe Mr. Naggar should do in Egypt what Paine, Jefferson, Madison et al, did in America.

  18. It is absurd to say it is about colonialism. We have made it clear that we will allow the Iraqis to rule themselves and further we have a history of allowing countries to rule themselves (Germany, Japan, the Philippines, and most recently Afghanistan).

    Neither is it about oil. If that were the case, it would be a lot easier to simply end the UN sanctions against Iraq. Better yet, we could just invade Saudi Arabia, they have more oil and would be easier to overthrow.

    People can stick their head in the sand and believe Saddam would never do anything bad to the US, but 9/11 taught me to no longer get caught beleiving the best about terrorists or tyrants. This is a pre-emptive war of defense.


  19. Jeff et. al.
    This war is ONLY about US imperialism. Even a fully nuclear Iraq poses no threat to us. The only reason Sadam has to attack us is that we are attacking him (and supporting Israel). If we weren’t demanding regime change, imposing sanctions, and enforcing no-fly zones. Iraq would court us as consumer of their oil. Far from acting in self defense, by attacking Iraq we increase the likelihood of being attacked, weaken our ecconomy and therefore our defense capabilities, and foster fear and resentment around the world. It is pure fantasy to believe Iraq will be better off for having been decimated by the U.S. There is no reason to believe a peaceful, democratic, and stable government will ever be able to rule Iraq sans U.S. occupation. But of course we don’t really have any intention of ever leaving. Just as we still occupy Saudi Arabia, Bosnia, South Korea, etc. etc. etc. The world is right to mistrust and fear us.

  20. Amen, Warren.

  21. The Philippines?

    Jeff, do you KNOW the history of the Philippines?

  22. Warren,

    I think you’re on the paranoid side my friend. Compare past colonialism with the present “occupation” by the US in places like Bosnia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and I think, if you’re honest with yourself, you’ll see a difference. I’d give an “Amen” to thinking more clearly about this.

    Also, let’s not pretend we live on some isolated island anymore (as if we ever did). The free markets this publication advocates need protection and September 11th changed the world. It’s time to take the rose colored glasses off, people.

    And I can’t believe liberal people who advocate civil rights would be against liberation anywhere. Yes, lets keep the women, the gays, the dissidents of Iraq down. Hey, they ain’t messing with us – right?

  23. “I have a different view. I think people in the Middle East may not like the US, but they respect power.”

    And yet, despite the ass kicking in Afghanistan, there were still the bombings in Bali and Kenya, and the attempt to shoot down airliners in Kenya.

  24. And for those who want to see how LOW some “anti-war protesters” can go, check out this posting:
    The article describes the anguish of children of National Guardsmen and women in Maine. Not only do these elementary- and middle-schoolers have to face the possiblity of losing their parents in any upcoming conflict with Iraq, but they ALSO have to face taunting and derision from some of their teachers, counselors and even school administrators.
    Disagreeing with adults is one thing, but forcing your political opinions on already vunerable children goes over the line to me. Makes you want institute some immediate school reform in Maine, doesn’t it?

  25. Kenya Rocks! I drink blood with the natives and eat the elders. Kenya is my dream home, lay off sucka

  26. EMAIL:

    DATE: 12/10/2003 11:48:06
    To be poor without bitterness is easy; to be rich without arrogance is hard.

  27. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/10/2004 03:27:56
    Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

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