The War of Hearts and Minds

Except for the Bush administration, almost everybody believes that the United States are losing the war in Iraq, if they have not lost it already. But there is another war the Americans are losing, one that some people, inside the administration and outside it, consider more important than the military battle: it is the war to win the hearts and minds of Arabs.

Have you ever heard of Hi Magazine? The answer is probably not. The magazine, launched in 2003, was targeted at Arab youth in order to give them a glimpse into living the American dream. The magazine proved to be a failure, and had to shut down after less than three years of the first issue.

However, Hi was not the only example of American failure to communicate with the Arab public. Al Hurra is still unable to attract even a small fraction of the audiences of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, and I wonder if anyone in the region listens to Radio Sawa. After the failure with the old media trio, only one medium is left in Uncle Sam’s bag of tricks: the internet.

According to an official at the U.S. Department of State, they are looking now for methods to use the internet to communicate with Arab youth, and they are tackling questions such as: what kind of websites appeal to this large demographic group that represent over 60% of the population in the region? Are they interested in news, sports, entertainment, blogs, social networks, or photo and video sharing? I would say any of these topics can be of interest to them, but only in one condition: it needs to be done right. And based on previous experiences in this field, the Americans just don’t know how to do that.
I believe that they are genuinely interested in reaching out to people here. They even send some of their top officials and advisers to talk with influential as well as regular people in the region. But when it comes to taking actions they utterly fail.

The failure in choosing the proper method of communication is not the only problem though. Another major problem facing the Americans here is that most people simply don’t trust them anymore. Several years of foolish and biased foreign policy in the Middle East have made people turn down anything coming with a “Made in USA” label. They just can’t expect anything good to come out of the U.S. administration.

So, what the Americans to do in their endeavors to boost more understanding between their nation and the Arab World? First, they should stop wasting resources on hopelessly failing projects. Instead, they should focus more on cultural exchange programs on different levels. Also, instead of launching their own projects online, they might consider using and supporting some of established websites to deliver their messages.

You don’t always need a standalone website to market an idea and spread the word about it online. Many good ideas on the web gained popularity depending exclusively on word of mouth. Governments, organizations and companies can make a big buzz by small gestures on the internet. Here is a few examples:

– Sponsor a competition on a community website.
– Ask a blogger for a slot as a guest blogger on his website (if you have something interesting to say, most bloggers would agree to do this).
– Support a non-profit organization.

Issues of ethics, credibility, and conflicts of interests should be clearly addressed and handled very carefully here. It could be very difficult for all parties included to deal with these issues in such situations, and therefore they should do their best to ensure transparency while maintaining a certain level of quality and respect.

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41 thoughts on “The War of Hearts and Minds

  1. You missed one point though, When the sender is non trustworthy, doesn’t matter how he conveys the message… it will be dropped anyway.
    I am assuming you are talking about the administration’s message.

  2. The media force they are using will not work since they dont have anything to back it up with. You can’t win over a population with pretty pictures.

    Arab youth are very aware of the media they interact with and know who they can trust and feel really attempt to connect with them. They are delusional on American foreign policy, since they say something, but do something else

    One major factor I’ve seen with Kuwaiti youth is when they apply for a student visa to the US. The US wants students and very open to it, yet it is a different matter when Arab students apply at the embassy. The endless paperwork, interviews, waiting, and just limbo status. If your child was dealt this way, you wouldn’t be too happy with the US in general.

    What the US should do in my opinion is take a page from the Israeli system. Israel has been doing so many youth programs in the US in terms of taking them on trips to Israel. Creating group activities in the US for young Jews and gentiles to get together and talk about Israel and matters concerning it.

    If the US would do this it would be a more pro-active method. Imagine if 500 young Saudis of mixed gender went to the US on a tour. The US capital and government, maybe even meet the president. Take them to a ranch where they would do group activities with other American youth to really interact and learn from each other.

    Those 500 would come back to Saudi more open about the US and really feel they connected with not just a country but a people, and then they would tell their friends and family how great it was.

    Then you can use the media. They will go pick up Hi and listen to Sawa and also want to participate in it since they feel it is a part of them, made for them and by them.

  3. Well its a bit of a failed mission if you try any form of exchange program on the one hand, whilst invading, meddling, blackmailing and threatening other countries in the region.

    Do you think they should meddle in Iranian websites before or after they attack Iran? Do you think anyone in Southern Lebanon would appreciate any American of engagement.

    The US is creating the conflicts, supporting Israel and throwing it’s weight around, this puts back any form of dialogue for decades

  4. One thing most Arabs should be glad their not subjected to is Fox News. Only special subscription Showtime users have to deal with that bulls**t. I had to listen to the ultra-conservative right wing spin about Jihadists and Wahabbis daily whilst in America last summer. Unfortunately, too many Americans (but alhumdulillah not ALL) swallow up everything Fox News channel has to offer, without questioning it, then naively consider themselves educated about us. If this channel were available on free Arabsat or Nilesat satellite channels, instead of so many music videos designed to pollute our minds and morals, America would instantly and permanently lose its campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Arab/Muslim world. There’s a smear campaign directed at Muslims for Americans/ the West to view and conversely, a campaign to win our love in our media. Think I’m joking? Look up the Fox’s official website. On any day there’s at least one story about how we’re all just sitting around, plotting how to destroy their way of life because of our intense hatred/jealousy of the freedoms they enjoy. As long as there are enquiring minds, the wonderful medium of the internet, and fantastic blogs like this one, the hypocrisy of the current American administration will never pull the wool completely over our eyes inshallah.

  5. “Sponsor cultural exchanges”? That sounds like code for get us out of Saudi Arabia and pay for us to come to America! You guys are such hypocrites. It’s easy to slam the U.S. for its new efforts, but you should ask yourself why all the old “cultural exchange” has failed. Frankly, I think the U.S. should cease trying to make the rest of the world like us. (The countries who supposedly hate us are reason enough not to care.) The fact that you dislike our efforts is enough for me to say, Why bother with people who scorn us continually? Reform yourself.

  6. Never met the magazine guys, but their “sell America” bit seemed useless before it even started. I met two Al-Hurra guys over a year ago, and was left with two immediate impressions: the cameraman didn’t wash often enough and the reporter was too Westernized to communicate effectively with his target audience.

    Winston Churchill used to quip that Americans always did the right thing – but only after they’ve tried everything else! Much of that is still true today. On the other hand, at least Americans are currently doing something, rather than leaving millions of Arabs to wallow in the misery created by their unchallenged rulers.

    We need to change our approach, and probably the State Department is not a good vehicle for doing so.

  7. Salams, just wanted to say: Mashalla you have a very nice blog and you write very well for a Saudi. i’ve been reading your posts for a while but today i just had to thank you.
    thanks!

  8. If anyone has a question about the motives of saudi stepford wife, the phrase “music videos designed to pollute our minds and morals” should clear things up. Fox news is also not the Muslim hating organization she paints, either. Check it out for yourself.

    I also liked nibaq’s suggestion, but I remember reading a piece in I believe The Religious Policeman about some Saudis that went to America. Parts of it were funny because one of the Saudi young men was so arrogant he would not walk 15 meters down the street. He expected a car to come get him. Anyway, I think that if we can complete our mission in Iraq (that is to create a stable, prosperous, democratic, heterogenous nation) then we’ll win more hearts and minds than any magazine, radio, or student exchange program ever could.

  9. Kafir said “if we can complete our mission in Iraq”

    Well, it is clear that you are on the right way to cemplete your mission of failure in Iraq.

    Ahmed,
    obvously they can’t win thw war of minds an hearts simpily because they are loosing the real war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even if they launch thousands of Al Hurra’s and a thousands of Sawa’s and HI’s, simpily because everyone in the Medeast knows their agendas already.

  10. The real problem is, is that these publications aimed at the Arab society came from the wrong direction.

    They worked on the idea that the reason that Arabs have such a dislike for America is because they dont understand America, it’s society or it’s government. So these publications set about trying to explain American society and policy to Arabs.

    But that is completely wrong. Arabs have a great understanding of American society and American policy. It is not the lack of understanding that makes them hate the American government, it is EXACTLY BECAUSE they understand American policy that they hate it.

    Trying to explain a policy to a people who already know and understand the policy but hate it anyway wont work.

    The average Arab is far more knowledgable about America, it’s society and government than the other way around. I have been all over the Middle East and people there know American society and politics well.

    The level of knowledge of “the other” is much greater than it is in the USA. Go to the average American and talk about elections in Bahrain, Egypt, and current state of things in Kuwait, Saudi and the like and they will have NO clue.

    On the other hand, go talk to the average Arab about American politics and they will be able to name key players, know the political parties and be able to tell you the differences between them.

    Explaining unpopular policies was ALWAYS going to be a failure. Too bad they spent tens of millions figuring out the obvious.

    Lets talk about changing American policies, that would creat change.

  11. As an American women I would like to say that most of you are dead wrong! I could tell you the ins and outs of the Middle East, I am not an Arab nor a Muslim. I also know that I am rare. I think most Americans (foreign policy included) fear the unknown ways of the Middle East. Most Americans only relate Arabs to Usama bin Laden. I feel that is truly unfair to you all. I think before American policy can and will change the hearts and minds of the American people must change. I am self- schooled in things such as the Middle Eastern politics and Islam, most Americans don’t give a damn.

    I think we ALL fear and sometimes hate what we don’t know or understand. I think we all (Arabs and Americans) need to sit down and get to know one another on a very personal level. Americans need a lot more education on Arabs thanrabs need about Americans. Until this day comes, I think all relations will be highly hostile and negative. It is my sincere hope as an American that one day we will all see eye to eye and have an amicable relationship…I do think it is possible!!

  12. Many of the posters on this board profess to “know” America. Trust me on this–you don’t. America is first and last about personal freedom. Freedom of thought and freedom to conduct commerce. Most of you have little understanding of the concepts, never having experienced them. It is this freedom that has allowed America the incredible accompolishments of the last three hundred years. Tell us about the accomplishments of Saudi Arabia over the last three hundred years.

    Many of you seem proud that you have ignored America’s efforts to accquaint you with our country–you shouldn’t be. Your culture and religion prevent you from an honest understanding of the cultures of others i.e. Your Blind. You are brain washed from birth that “different” is inherently evil. You are unable to look at anything without seeing a sinister “conspiracy”…how about “the Jews did 9/11”! You got to love that one!

    Your religion has been highjacked and is now known around the world as one of gratuitous violence, where innocents are killed daily in wild eyed pursuit of 72 virgins. And where is the voice of the Muslim world…silent. Or in your case smugly congratulating yourselves that you have withstood the eforts of a neighbor in the global village, America, trying to make your accquaintence. Some day you will recognize that America offers you freedom. Nothing more and nothing less. Real lasting freedom, not the opportunity to have an election ONCE, so that Islamists can gain power and then run a theocratic dictatorship henceforth.

    Learn to think for yourselves. Loose your cynicism about America. It has brought freedom to hundreds and hundreds of millions around the world. Americans would very much like to see you free. Imagine freedom.

  13. To the last anonymous who said:

    “Some day you will recognize that America offers you freedom. Nothing more and nothing less.”

    May I suggest that you go read about America’s Modern history to see for yourself how much “more” or “less” – depends on how you see it – America “helped” many countries around the world?!

    Amazing how even after 300 years of “Freedom” you still post anonymously, or were you afraid that “we” are going to ping you with a “blog side bomb”

    cheers

  14. To entropy:

    Thanks for your suggestion, but I could teach a class in modern American history.

    America is far from perfect, but only a fool would deny the statement that “America has done vastly more to improve the human condition than any other country in history”. Or would you propose Saudi Arabia for that honor? (Now that should produce a good laugh!)

    As an example, Americans have had the best intensions in Iraq and Afganistan. We genuinely want the people of these countries to join the worlds great democracies and live free. We have had other motives as well, but we truly believed that we would set these people free. We have spent hundreds of billions of dollars and the lives of thousands of our children. What have your people (Muslims) done with these opportunities? Your Muslim brothers have squandered the opportunity given them to forge free societies, showing themselves to be so hideously violent that one begins to question their sanity. Daily they blow each other up in pursuit of “72 virgins”. It doesn’t get much crazier than that. Do you or your fellow Muslims focus on these greatest of evils?? Of course not, because your too busy finding fault with America and don’t have the courage to stand up to the Islamists for your own freedom.

    I was highly amused to read in your profile that you list as your residence VIRGINIA,USA!! Apparently your the typical hypocrite who hates the US so much you want to live here.

    As to why I post anonymously, I don’t have a profile and don’t want to waste the time making one. Notice that you just HAD TO propose some silly alterior motive. In some parts of the world things actually are exactly as they seem. Your living like “Alice in Wonderland”. Enjoy.

  15. Anonymous

    If you want to talk logic, then lets talk. But when you come in bashing everybody and expect one to reply to you “politely” thats not gonna happen. Sorry if what I said
    offended you, but you started. :-)

    Let me start with this: we know we have our share of problems in this part of the world, and some of what you said is true, and some of us are working hard to change it, yet that does not give you the right to insult our intelligence and say things like: “America
    wants to bring you freedom nothing more” becasue if some of your fellow Americans fell for this neo-conservative propaganda, we DID NOT.

    America that you’re talking about is not there anymore. You are living in the past, not different than a lot of Arabs who are still living in the past of their old glory!! Now thats a sad fact for us too, and for the whole world for obvious reasons.

    You said America is far from perfect, and I tell you yes indeed it is. I hope you are also aware of the fact that the whole world now sees America as “The Evil” No Hi magazine, nor AlHurra tv nor anything can remove the pictures we saw in Abu Graib from the hearts and minds of the people here. Even if people believed that you were here to bring freedom, I bet you thats not exactly the kind of freedom they had in mind.
    Ask a mother who saw her child slip away in front of her eyes because she couldn’t get her hands on a freaking dose of antibiotic and she’ll tell you how she feels about America, America that caused HALF A MILLION Iraqi children to die during the years of the Iraqi sanctions just to “punish” Saddam… and when Mrs. Madeline Albright was asked about it, she shamelessly replied: yes it was worth it!!! You’ll have to excuse me for saying this, but when we hear “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave” we tend to hold you to a higher standards than this.

    entropy,
    a.k.a Alice in Wonderland

  16. Entrophy,

    Hello. You seem like a well meaning person, so I will try hard not to come across as shrill. But I like most Americans, have tired some time ago of the people in the Middle East incessantly whining about being “victims”. Look inward to find the source of your dysfunctional governments and economies and taking personal responsibility for your own destiny. It’s always soo easy to assume the victim mantle, it’s always easier to blame the other guy, isn’t it? It excuses you from having to act, which may involve risk and personal sacrifice.

    You have brought up “sanctions” as well as Abu Graiv, so lets use them as examples.

    Lets talk about Abu Graiv. Between five and ten American hillbillies, who probably didn’t graduate from highschool, did a variety of humilating things to some prisoners and to show you how stupid and naive they are, took pctures. They will be spending a number of years in prison contemplating their stupidity. The Arab world nealy had a sizure over this behavior. So on one hand we have a stack of naked prisoners getting their picture taken. What do we have on the other side? Suicide bombers blowing up school children, markets, mosques, hospitals. Iraq citizens being captured so that their heads, noses, ears, fingers, hands, legs can be cut off. Holes being drilled in skulls, eyes being gouged out. Children murdered in front of their parents, parents being murdered in front of their parents, well you get the idea. And there is barely a peep out of the Muslim world detesting this mindless genocide. We now have the Taliban again hoping to bring all of the above to the lucky citizens of Afganistan. When will you people get SOME SENSE OF PROPORTIONALITY?? Abu Graiv-bad, followed by screams of indignance from the Arab street. The behavior of your fellow Muslims in Iraq-absolutely hideous, rising to the level of the most vile things that humans can think of to do to each other, followed by hardly a word of protest from the Arab street. All I can say is God help you. It boggles the American mind.

    Lets look at sanctions. Sanctions were placed on Iraq after the gulf war to contain Sadam Hussein’s military porwers, Sadam having made war against Iran for eight years followed by an invasion of Kuwait and as all suspect with an eye on Saudi Arabia. Given his clear penchant for military aggression the world was, rightfully,very concerned about his program for weapons of mass destruction. The sanctions were imposed by a vote of the United Nations. Sanctions are blunt tool and innocent people get harmed when they are used. Put the blame for their loss were it belongs: ON SADAM HUSSEIN AND HIS CABAL OF BATHH PARTY SUPPORTERS!! He ran an illegitiment government that was a threat to the world and was responsibile for the deaths of millions of his countrymen and Iraq’s neighbors. Of course the mother who looses her child for the lack of antibiotics doesn’t care about any of that, she is blinded by her personel circumstances. You, on the other hand, have no excuse. You should point the finger of blame squarely where it belongs which is with Sadam Hussein and his supporters. To overthrow this hideous dictator of 30 plus years was not going to come without sacrifice, but typical of the Arab street, lets not place the blame where it belongs, lets be victims and blame the Americans/infidels, because no matter how detestable the behavior of a fellow Muslim, if there is an infidel involved your going to pin it on them.

    Your fellow Muslims are in turmoil throughout the world, trying to find their place in the 21st century. Just when Islam nees to take a great leap into the modern world, your religion is being highjacked be a fanatical cult like mentality that brings misery to all who come in contact with it and would like to take the world back to the 8th century.

    It is not until Muslims take responsibility for their fellow religionists and shake of this victim mentality that things will change for you for the better. America has very little to do with it.

    America has not changed. We are still operating well within the bounds of our political system and the continuum of our political beliefs and values. Unfortunately, for the last 6 plus years we have had people from the conservative side of our political spectrum running the country. Most Americans are as anxious for this to come to an end as you and the rest of the world are. I know that I am.

    Direct your efforts at cleaning your own house, America will right it’s own course very soon.

  17. The US government has always had wooden ears and a hamfisted approach (and I do mean hamfisted). You should see some of the antidrug movies they made in, I think the 1950s. Maybe it was even earlier. They were trying to talk to *US* youth. Those films are side-splitting hilarious.

    I haven’t seen what they have on offer for Arab youth, but judging by the one picture in your post, somebody should be archiving “Best Of” clips from this body of drivel for the benefit of future generations, who may have even less to laugh about than we do after this Administration is done.

  18. Now you are speaking against the U.S?! Wonder why now? Maybe after the U.S turned against your beloved Iran and your sweet mullahs of Najaf? Right Mr.Sectarian?

    By the way, since you are a ‘strong supporter’ of women rights, do you have any comments on the arrest of 33 women rights activists in your beloved Iran?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6426087.stm

    http://womensspace.wordpress.com/tag/iranian-womens-activism/

    Do you have any fair word to say about the way women in Southern Iraq are being treated by the Shia militias specially college girls?

    Or does your ‘big’ shia heart have a place for women who are being mistreated by the Wahhabies only?
    Sectarianism stinks Mr.Sectarian.

  19. abu Sinan,

    Since Arabia is the land of the conspiracy theory, I wonder exactly which of America’s policies are objected to and why.

    Entropy,

    During those sanction years, an exception was made for food and medicine. Saddam intercepted those shipments and used them to enrich himself. He was the one who did not give a damn about the suffering of Iraqi children. He built 37 palaces for himself while food was rationed to his people. Yet we are the bad guys for having deposed him.

    As for Madeline Albright, she has retracted that statement over and over, like here.

  20. Progressive, thanks for that eloquent addition to the commentary. It is a shame, though, that you can see nothing in me but my shi’ism, which has nothing to do with Iran, in the same way that this post has nothing to do with it, therefor your comment is off-topic and does nothing but interrupting what seems like a good conversation.

  21. Exactly this approach worked wonders in the USSR. We knew it was partly propaganda, but the journal “America” and radiostation “voice of the USA” were by far the most reliable sources of information.

    Same is true about Arab countries, but I think you need an open mind. It’s hard when you have been brainwashed from birth.

    If Saudi women enjoy having men deciding what they are allowed to do, including having a medical opeation… There is little anyone can do to help.

  22. Americans in general know little about Middle Eastern countries because they are unimportant, adding nothing of value to the world but oil. We are especially bored with backward people furiously resisting modernity in favor of their own barbarous religion. If it were not for the oil we found beneath your feet and pump for you, the only time we would care to read about the Middle East would be in the National Geographic along with stories about headhunters in New Guinea and slave traders in Africa.

    As for your opaque references to US foreign policy, let me untangle it for you: No, we’re not going to support your bloodthirsty dream of perpetrating a second Holocaust in Israel. We are not going to indulge your Stone Age hatreds. We’re disgusted by your murderous bigotry.

    It is exactly this pervasive Islamic bigotry which is the problem between us, contrary to your claims of American insensitivity. Arab Muslims are the most racist and religiously prejudiced people on Earth, which leads to most of your problems dealing with others of different religions and races, people you find it impossible to accept. This bigotry is drummed into your heads from birth by your family, school, the mosque, and the media. It is this primitive feral hatred of yours which makes it so difficult for the civilized world to communicate with you. This same bigotry leads Muslims to make war on their hosts, where ever they go, making themselves hated around the world.

    You live in a world of self-serving lies. You think Jews committed the Sep 11 attacks, that America is in Iraq for the oil, that Americans are harvesting organs from Iraqis for transplant, and a hundred other things. There is nothing too stupid for a Muslim to believe. Such pervasive lying cripples your intellect, keeping you intellectually inferior to the West. Raised in a medium of religious slander, you can no more understand America than you can know the back of the Moon.

    Since Islam is a supremacist religion, you think everyone must accommodate you. It’s not gonna happen. You are the problem, not America, not Europe, not the West nor the rest of the non-Muslim world. YOU.

    Bitching about America is fun for you because then you don’t have to accept responsibility for your own screw-ups nor, worst of all, fix them. However, it leaves you just as backward culturally as you were a century ago. One day, the oil will run out or a new energy source will be discovered (probably in America) and the modern world will drop the Middle East like a bad habit, taking all its wonderful toys with it. Your hatred of the Other will leave you with no intellectual capital with which to make your way in the world of the future. You’ll only be fit to live in the 7th century you so admire.

  23. entropy: “May I suggest that you go read about America’s Modern history to see for yourself how much “more” or “less” – depends on how you see it – America “helped” many countries around the world?!”

    Undoubtedly, we are reading modern American history from different books. Mine are written by competing Western historians with different perceptions. Yours, undoubtedly, are written by ignorant Wahhabis with a mind to indoctrinating Muslims to hate the West.

    America defeated two racist tyrannies in WWII, Japan and Germany, tyrannies which Muslims admire. We defeated the Soviets and international communism in the Cold War, freeing Eastern Europe. Arab Muslims are among the last people on Earth to discover socialism is a failure.

    If you need a glaring example of the difference it makes to have America for an ally compared to its enemies, take a look at the progress of West Germany as compared to East Germany under the Soviets; or South Korea as compared to North Korea, where laws had to be passed against cannibalism.

    By contrast, you might compare the Islamist hell Saudi Arabia made of Afghanistan compared to relative freedom Afghans now enjoy to fly a kit or own a canary.

    I challenge you to present one country Saudi Arabia has helped to become free and prosperous as America has done with so many nations.

  24. nibaq: “One major factor I’ve seen with Kuwaiti youth is when they apply for a student visa to the US. The US wants students and very open to it, yet it is a different matter when Arab students apply at the embassy. The endless paperwork, interviews, waiting, and just limbo status. If your child was dealt this way, you wouldn’t be too happy with the US in general.”

    So, Nibaq, your complaint against America the Great Satan is that it’s too hard to get in? Perhaps if Arab Muslims did not come to America to do mass-murder we would not need to examine each and every one of you so closely. If you were an American and your child was murdered by a Muslim nutcase because he got expedited through Customs on a student visa, you would not be too happy, would you? Think about that the next time your friends are talking up the jihad.

    nibaq: “Imagine if 500 young Saudis of mixed gender went to the US on a tour. The US capital and government, maybe even meet the president. Take them to a ranch where they would do group activities with other American youth to really interact and learn from each other.”

    After Sep 11, I can’t imagine letting 500 Saudi students run around America except under armed guard. There are also the cultural impediments of the Wahhabi horror at allowing the genders to mix and their bigoted injunction that Muslims should not take non-Muslims as friends. You have a lot of cultural problems to fix before this cultural exchange would work.

    nibaq: “Those 500 would come back to Saudi more open about the US and really feel they connected with not just a country but a people, and then they would tell their friends and family how great it was.”

    Other foreign exchange students from the civilized world do not need such programs to get along with Americans. America is an open country to people of good will, a nation that welcomes immigrants, at least those who want to contribute to America, not destroy it. The Indians and Chinese, civilized people, have no problem acculturating to America. Why do Saudis?

    The burden is not on America to prove itself to Saudi students raised on a diet of bigotry, but rather on Saudi Arabia to abandon its bigotry and prove itself to the world. Instead of Saudis insisting they be freely allowed in countries they have attacked, Saudi Arabia should open itself to visitors from the world, and to the inevitable stinging criticism which would follow, criticism essential to drag the Saudis, yelling and screaming, into the modern world.

  25. Bahrania: “Well its a bit of a failed mission if you try any form of exchange program on the one hand, whilst invading, meddling, blackmailing and threatening other countries in the region.”

    Bahrania, do you mean invading like 19 Muslims invading America and killing 3000 people? Do you mean meddling like Saudis sending a stream of suicide bombers to butcher Iraqis doing their shopping? Do you mean blackmailing like the Saudi-funded CAIR threatening lawsuits against anyone in America who criticizes Islam or Saudi Arabia? Do you mean threatening like the Muslim terror war on the world?

    Bahrania: “The US is creating the conflicts, supporting Israel and throwing it’s weight around, this puts back any form of dialogue for decades.”

    It wasn’t America who launched all those Katyushas into Israel or kidnapped those Israeli soldiers, starting the war in Lebanon.

    It wasn’t America which attacked itself on Sep 11, requiring us to clear Al Qaada out of Afghanistan.

    It wasn’t America which invaded Kuwait and refused to abide by the surrender. America did not violate a dozen and a half UN provisions to keep the peace nor try to assassinate the elder Bush in Kuwait nor fired 600 missiles at its own aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone.

    Your foolish claim that America is creating all the conflict in the Middle East is pathetic Muslim blame-shifting at its most absurd. Arab Muslims are their own worst enemies and the most prolific murderers of themselves.

  26. Saudi Stepford Wife: “One thing most Arabs should be glad their not subjected to is Fox News. Only special subscription Showtime users have to deal with that bulls**t. I had to listen to the ultra-conservative right wing spin about Jihadists and Wahabbis daily whilst in America last summer.”

    I imagine it’s very comforting to leave all that Fox News propaganda behind and get back to that fair and balanced Al Jazeera. Or perhaps you prefer the balanced broadcasts available within Saudi Arabia, like the ones teaching little kids to call Jews and Christians pigs and apes or telethons raising money for suicide bombers or all those imaginative conspiracy theories presented as fact? Now that’s what I call bull***t, or camel***t as you may prefer.

    Saudi Stepford Wife: “Unfortunately, too many Americans (but alhumdulillah not ALL) swallow up everything Fox News channel has to offer, without questioning it, then naively consider themselves educated about us.”

    I must confess, I do find much of what Fox News offers up about Islam very convincing. For example, when it presents videos taken secretly in mosques of imams preaching jihad against America, beating girls if they don’t wear hijab, or claiming Muslims aren’t bound by American laws. It’s convincing when they show jihad videos being sold in mosque courtyards. It’s convincing when they broadcast those jihad videos where Muslims claim that killing a kuffar is like killing a cow, that you should be able to buy and sell kuffars.

    You just can’t believe how convincing it is to see this hate pour out of the mouths of Muslim leaders. Thank goodness Fox News is showing us what goes on behind those mosque doors.

    Saudi Stepford Wife: “If this channel were available on free Arabsat or Nilesat satellite channels, instead of so many music videos designed to pollute our minds and morals, America would instantly and permanently lose its campaign to win the hearts and minds of the Arab/Muslim world.”

    The hearts and minds of the Arab Muslim world have been poisoned against the non-Muslim world since the inception of Islam. Islam recognizes no good deeds done by America nor infidels in general. It’s pointless to try. It’s up to the Muslims to open their hearts and minds to the world, to abandon their hate of the Other.

    Saudi Stepford Wife: “There’s a smear campaign directed at Muslims for Americans/ the West to view ….”

    The only thing required to smear Muslims is to broadcast their own words to the world. Nothing makes Muslims look more foolish and hateful than themselves.

  27. Entropy: “Let me start with this: we know we have our share of problems in this part of the world, and some of what you said is true, and some of us are working hard to change it, yet that does not give you the right to insult our intelligence and say things like: “America
    wants to bring you freedom nothing more” becasue if some of your fellow Americans fell for this neo-conservative propaganda, we DID NOT.

    America that you’re talking about is not there anymore. You are living in the past, not different than a lot of Arabs who are still living in the past of their old glory!! Now thats a sad fact for us too, and for the whole world for obvious reasons.”

    Nothing so neatly illustrates how little Arab Muslims really know about America than these last couple paragraphs. Freedom and individual liberty are America’s true religion. We really believe the world will benefit from its spread. Our soldiers believe that they are fighting to give it to Iraqis and Afghan. If you don’t know this, then you don’t know America.

    I suspect the reason you don’t get this is that your mind has been poisoned by the pervasive prejudices of your enviroment. I suspect also that you are projecting your own Arab Muslim mindset onto America. After all, Arab Muslims don’t do wars of liberation, only wars of conquest. It’s difficult for Arab Muslims to think outside their cultural box.

    Entropy: “You said America is far from perfect, and I tell you yes indeed it is. I hope you are also aware of the fact that the whole world now sees America as “The Evil””

    Pure nonsense. The world is beating a path to our door. One of the biggest complaints on this thread was that there was too much delay and paperwork to get a visa to visit and study in America, that Land of Horrible Evil. We have plenty of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Pakistan, et al who know what Real Evil looks like and have fled it. And really, if you want a look at Real Evil, you need only visit the local Wahhabi mosque.

    Entropy: “Ask a mother who saw her child slip away in front of her eyes because she couldn’t get her hands on a freaking dose of antibiotic and she’ll tell you how she feels about America, America that caused HALF A MILLION Iraqi children to die during the years of the Iraqi sanctions just to “punish” Saddam… “

    This is propaganda, like so much stuff that floats as fact in the Muslim world. The Oil For Food program delivered the medicine Iraqis needed to Iraq, but Saddam and his sons sold it on the black market in Jordan and elsewhere for their own gain. They gave a trickle of watered down substitutes to their own people, medicines that Iraqi doctors called “chalk.” In typical Muslim fashion, you dishonestly shift the blame from a despicable Muslim tyrant to America. When will Muslims ever take responsibility for their own crimes?

    Entropy: “You’ll have to excuse me for saying this, but when we hear “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave” we tend to hold you to a higher standards than this.”

    And what standards do you hold yourself to, Entropy? Do you hold yourself to any standard of honesty when making your wild slander against America? Do you hold your own leaders and country to even a fraction of the standard you expect from America? Why should we respect you when you don’t maintain any standards at all?

  28. Abu Sinan: “They worked on the idea that the reason that Arabs have such a dislike for America is because they dont understand America, it’s society or it’s government. So these publications set about trying to explain American society and policy to Arabs.

    But that is completely wrong. Arabs have a great understanding of American society and American policy. It is not the lack of understanding that makes them hate the American government, it is EXACTLY BECAUSE they understand American policy that they hate it.

    Trying to explain a policy to a people who already know and understand the policy but hate it anyway wont work.”

    Arab Muslims don’t understand America at all, they misunderstand it. They think Jews run America, that Jews run the media, that Jews attacked the World Trade Center. They think we’re all taking drugs and having orgies. They think we’re engaged in a war against Islam when we couldn’t care less about their idiot religion. Yesterday, I read a Muslim claim that the Internet is controlled from an American aircraft carrier that shut it all down with a click of a Big Button and shuts out people we don’t like.

    Muslims believe a lot of dopey crap about America. When it comes to America, Muslims are worse than ignorant. They’re convinced of crazy crap that is impossible.

    Abu Sinan: “The level of knowledge of “the other” is much greater than it is in the USA. Go to the average American and talk about elections in Bahrain, Egypt, and current state of things in Kuwait, Saudi and the like and they will have NO clue.”

    Why do we need a clue about elections in Bahrain? America is the world power, Bahrain is not. What America does affects the world. What Bahrain does affects Manama. What America does has a consequence for the world. What Bahrain does is inconsequential to the world.

    Your argument is empty rhetoric, without substance.

    Abu Sinan: “Lets talk about changing American policies, that would creat change.”

    It’s the Arab countries who need to change their violent and dysfunctional policies, policies which spread death and misery through the world from New York to Bali. Virtually any change in policy by Arab states would improve their situation.

  29. When it comes to education, I don’t think that people who don’t have access to the full story, who’s governments suppress information and who believe in bizarre conspiracy theories should be lecturing anyone.

    If you want to know about America, you have to come here. Listening to Middle Eastern media’s interpretation of us is like listening to someone’s crazy aunt Selma that talks to her toaster and taking her seriously.

  30. I really want to know what Ahmed thinks about all of this feedback? Was this what he intended and does he agree with any of this?

  31. Can a Saudi even tell us his honest opinion of these comments or does he risk the Saudi government tracing his comments and punishing him should he agree??

    To think that many of the posters here live in such a prison state, yet feel it necessery to criticize America is ample testimony to their brainwashed state of mind.

  32. tantor,

    Are you a carpenter? Because you hit the nail squarely on the head several times. Summed up nicely by anonymous (11/3/07 09:32).

    How can we expect people living in closed societies to have any understanding whatsoever about anyone, including themselves?

    When the lid was finally peeled off the Soviet Union, we found a festering cesspool, a far cry from the worker’s paradise promised by Lenin. This war on terror has blown the cover off the Muslim world in a similar fashion and, lo and behold, another cesspool, hardly what you would expect in the land of the Garden of Eden, where God spoke to Abraham, the home of some of the world’s greatest civilizations and onetime pinnacle of culture and learning in the world.

    In the U.S., we have “daylight” laws. These laws require government to be open about their proceedings. They’re called “daylight” because corruption is like mold. It grows in the shadows but dies in bright sunshine. The same can be said for the type of misinformation, bigotry, and hatred that simmers in Muslim societies. Once we expose it to the light of day, it too will shrivel and die.

    Then, like the citizens of those former Warsaw pact countries who were freed of the Russian bear by our efforts in the Cold War, Muslims will give us their hearts and minds gladly.

  33. I don’t understand why we have to win anyone’s hearts and minds…

    The Sowdis should be the ones to try and explain to US why they don’t allow Jews and Christians to worship obver there.

    Who are they to criticize US?

    They spend millions on maderassas and on mosks to proselytize the West but they don’t even allow a nun to carry a Bible over there.

    What a big bunch of hypocrites.

    One day, my friends the oil will run out. Our ingenuity, on the other hand, will never run dry.

    We don’t have a religion that stifles our creativity, Thank God.

    Put that in yer pipe and smoke it.

  34. Tantor, you are the one who knows nothing.
    Your generalization and prejudice sickens me… I myself am agnostic and from Amsterdam, where every day I see Muslims and non Muslims interact in great ways.
    I see Muslims and non Muslims strolling and chatting along the market squares, buying wares from Muslims and non Muslims alike, I see caring Muslim fathers and mothers bringing their children from school, I see Muslim police officers, bus drivers, teachers, neighbors, etc. who contribute more to society than a hater like you ever could.
    I’ve known many great Muslim neighbors who are happy to have you come over for dinner any day of the week.
    You have many preconceived notions… I want you to come here to Amsterdam, come to the neighborhoods Bos-en-Lommer or Osdorp, and see with your own eyes how foolish you are.

  35. Anonymous Dutchperson,

    This morning I opened up the Washington Post to read about 24-year-old Bouchra El-Hor, a Moroccan immigrant to your tolerant and opened minded country, who was planning a suicide attack in which she would have murdered herself and her own infant. The people in her hometown of Zutphen were shocked that such a normal secular “Dutch” girl could turn radical so quickly. Here is the link:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/11/AR2007031101618.html

    It goes on to say that European intelligence agencies say there is no profile of terrorists, that they represent the Muslim immigrant population of Europe. Put another way, any Muslim in Europe is a potential terrorist. The link between them is Islam.

    Muslims are currently engaged on a rape spree across northwestern Europe. They see nothing wrong with sexually assaulting kuffar women, who should be their sexual booty according to their Islam. When most of the rapists are Muslim immigrants, does that seem like a problem to you?

    Theo van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim fanatic in the streets of Amsterdam, a knife punched in his chest bearing a note carrying threats to kill more Dutch. Doesn’t that strike you as a bit intolerant? Could this assassination possibly be a clue that something is amiss with the Muslims in your community? Why do critics of Islam require armed guards in the Netherlands? Do critics of other religions fear death?

    Wake up and listen to the call to prayer, Anonymous Dutchperson. I’m very happy that you live in a nice, gentle world at the moment. It will not stay that way when Muslims become the majority.

    Thanks for the invitation to your neighborhood. I’m sure I would enjoy it and I hope to visit some day. In return, I invite you to come visit Washington, DC and see where the suicide jet hit the Pentagon. I see it every day. You might also go to New York and see the hole where the World Trade Center used to be. You might stop and ponder the lesson to be learned from it. I have and so have a lot of Americans. I only hope that you learn the lesson the easy way, not from a catastrophe.

  36. Anonymous Dutchperson,

    Your comments are typical inane liberal crap. How nice for you that your little neighborhood in Amsterdam is so idyllic. How simple minded of you to think it is in anyway representative of Islam throughout the rest of the world. There is a growing cancer within Islam in the Netherlands, as well as throughout the world. Tandor has very accurately described many of its hideous aspects. Try and get your head out of your little neighborhood and take a look at Islam throughout the rest of the world where Islam is most notable for it’s mudereous intolerence of “infidels”. It’s not a pretty picture.

    If this cancer has it’s way your little Amsterdam neighborhood would look like Riyadh. Where do you propose to jail all those gays?? How many wives do you anticipate for yourself? Be sure to hire a driver cause those fine ladies won’t be able to drive or work outside of the home.

    Of course there are millions of good Muslim people. So what. That does not mean Islam is above rational criticism and it deserves plenty. I certainly don’t “hate” Muslims and I suspect Tandor doesn’t either, but we have every right to question the values and actions of Muslims as well as all other religions.

  37. Anonymous Dutchperson,

    Here is the headline story from todays Yahoo home page:

    “Jihad online
    An estimated 5,000 web sites are devoted to the spread of Islamic extremism.”

    Perhaps you can share this info with all those wonderful Muslim neighbors, so that they can get in on the fun. You don’t think some of the are already do you??

  38. Anonymous 12/3/07 10:11

    No, it would not look like Riyadh, the muslims here are almost exclusively from Morocco and Turkey and they would never want anything like that. (Casablanca and Istanbul themselves are very different from Riyadh, obviously)
    I am quite young myself (18), and for the past 6 years I have attended schools with high muslim percentages, and 99% of these young people are absolutely not interested in strict religion.
    They are Muslims, but just as much as most Christian young people are Christians in your country… they hardly care about religion and are more interested in music, clothes, etc. like everyone else.
    The two curly girls in the foreground here are most typical of Muslim girls in my area… do they strike you as wanting to make this place Riyadh?

    http://img113.imageshack.us/img113/9766/dscn2329tj92nj2.jpg

    Yes, you have every right of questioning all religions and all that, but I was responding to Tantor’s generalization of all Muslims as backwards, racist and all that.

    Tantor 12/3/07 08:45

    Yes, it’s intolerant. No, it doesn’t say anything is miss in the Muslim community, as zealously religious nutters are very rare here.
    The biggest problem is probably radical Imams and mosques, and they should never be allowed to brainwash followers, I think they should do their mind polluting work in Pakistan or something, preferably nowhere.
    Again, what one guy like Mohammed B does has absolutely nothing to do with Muslim families who never even knew of the existence of that same guy.
    I would love to come to Washington or New York, but the leason to be learned, I think, is to be mindful of zealous extremists.
    I personally think the lesson you have learned from it (suspect all Muslims) is wrong, and makes matters much, much worse.

  39. anonymous 12/3/07 10:11,

    In Riyadh they don’t jail gay people. As with many other crimes against Allah, they spread out a big plastic sheet, bring out the drugged defendant and then behead him for all to see. The same fate will befall Amsterdam’s hash and opium smokers as well as its heroin addicts.

    Fortunately (I guess) for Mr. Agnostic, he won’t be around to see much of it, since non-believers are among the first to go.

    Good Lord! Europeans watched as German fascists marched into their countries, collected then exterminated Jews, gays, and communists, but when the clarion call goes out warning them of a new fascism on the horizon, they all shrug their shoulders and say “Not in my country.” Gah!

  40. @kafir | 12/3/07 11:54]

    50% of the world’s hash production originates in Morocco.
    A large part of the hash here is SUPPLIED by Muslim Moroccans. ;)

  41. Anon Dutchperson: “Yes, it’s intolerant. No, it doesn’t say anything is miss in the Muslim community, as zealously religious nutters are very rare here.”

    Are they? What about all those Muslims who marched in Amsterdam over the Danish cartoons? You know, the ones in the Hamas jackets spoiling for a fight? How many angry Muslims must fill your streets before you concede there might be a problem?

    On Sep 10, we thought Muslim crazies were rare in America. On Sep 12, not so much.

    Anon Dutchperson: “Again, what one guy like Mohammed B does has absolutely nothing to do with Muslim families who never even knew of the existence of that same guy.”

    It’s not just one guy, Anon Dutchperson. You’re kidding yourself if you think there’s not more where he came from, plenty more, more than you could imagine, more than you want to imagine.

    Anon Dutchperson: “I would love to come to Washington or New York, but the leason to be learned, I think, is to be mindful of zealous extremists.”

    On that we agree. Now it’s the number of those extremists which requires further discovery.

    Anon Dutchperson: “I personally think the lesson you have learned from it (suspect all Muslims) is wrong, and makes matters much, much worse.”

    The Saudi Embassy here in Washington distributes a tourist brochure in Arabic which reminds Muslim tourists that they have a religious duty to hate infidels and to refuse to participate in democracy, which is blasphemy in their view. A team of researchers found Wahhabi hate literature in 18 out of 18 mosques in a dozen different US cities. Others estimate that 80% of the mosques in America have been radicalized by Wahhabi preachers funded by Saudi Arabia.

    Muslim schools in DC produce terrorists not only in their student body but their administration. The textbooks from these Muslims schools explicitly teach elementary school kids that it’s OK to hurt and steal from non-Muslims.

    Almost every time a Muslim moderate is presented, his violently radical past is uncovered. Polls of Muslims in the West show that a majority of them reject the fact that Muslims perpetrated Sep 11.

    When Muslims perform the hajj to Mecca, part of their ritual is to stone the pillars of Mina, which represent Satan. For the last few years at least, if not longer, “America” or “Death to America” has been written on one of those pillars. In other words, Muslims identify America as Satan and incorporate that belief into their most sacred rituals. It’s their doctrine. You might also consider that this is done after the Sep 11 attacks, which to my mind implicitly endorses them. Islam endorses such terror.

    None of this gives me a warm nor fuzzy feeling about Islam nor Muslims. Viewing the facts with a cold eye, one comes to the conclusion that Muslims want to do America and Americans evil, and the rest of the West as well. Ignoring the facts won’t make things better, but allow things to get much, much worse.

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