Friday, 8 February 2002 : "Rushdie on the war"
America and Anti-Americans by Salman Rushdie [NY Times]
America did, in Afghanistan, what had to be done, and did it well. The bad news, however, is that these successes have not won new friends for the United States outside Afghanistan. In fact, the effectiveness of the American campaign may have made some parts of the world hate America more than they did before.
Critics of the Afghan campaign in the West are enraged because they have been shown to be wrong at every step: no, American forces weren't humiliated the way the Russians had been; and yes, the air strikes did work; and no, the Northern Alliance didn't massacre people in Kabul; and yes, the Taliban did crumble away like the hated tyrants they were, even in their southern strongholds; and no, it wasn't that difficult to get the militants out of their cave fortresses; and yes, the various factions succeeded in putting together a new government that seems to have broad support among the people.
Western anti-Americanism is an altogether more petulant phenomenon than its Islamic counterpart and far more personalized. Muslim countries don't like America's power, its "arrogance," its success; but in the non-American West, the main objection seems to be to American people. Night after night, I have found myself listening to Londoners' diatribes against the sheer weirdness of the American citizenry.
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