Courtesy Reuters

Hate Your Policies, Love Your Institutions


Two groups have come under examination in the "why do they hate us?" debate that has unfolded since September 11, 2001. One comprises the perpetrators of violence and terrorism -- the Osama bin Ladens, the Mohammad Attas, and some suicide bombers. They are fanatics in every sense of the word. Their interpretations of politics and Islam are so extreme that they disparage the great majority of Muslim Middle Easterners as "unbelievers." They are not going to be deterred by debate, compromise, sanctions, or even the threat of death. The challenge they pose to the United States is a security issue, a matter to be dealt with through careful police work and military action. America's resources are adequate for dealing with this threat.

The vastly larger group of Muslim Middle Easterners who express anger toward the United States and evince some sympathy for bin Laden pose a far more serious challenge. This group's members are aFFLicted by middle-class frustrations, governed by political systems that give them no voice, and burdened by economies that offer them few opportunities. They are witnessing a conflict over land and sacred places in which they perceive the United States as applying two standards of equity and two standards of measuring violence, each in favor of Israel. That resulting frustration and anger leads to expressions of sympathy for those who resort to violence against the United States.

A Gallup poll last year asked nearly 10,000 respondents in nine predominantly Muslim countries whether they had a favorable or an unfavorable opinion of the United States. The range of unfavorable views ran from a low of 33 percent in Turkey to a high of 68 percent in Pakistan. The poll also found that respondents overwhelmingly described the United States as "ruthless, aggressive, conceited, arrogant, easily provoked, biased." But such opinions tend to be not so much about the American people or their institutions as they are about the U.S. government and its actions. For example, an even more recent

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