Monday, October 19, 2009

They Hate us Because we are Free?

David Rohde is a New York Times reporter that was captured by the Taliban and held for seven months before he was released. He is currently writing about his time as a hostage in a series at the New York Times and in his second installment of the series today, he wrote:

For the next several nights, a stream of Haqqani commanders overflowing with hatred for the United States and Israel visited us, unleashing blistering critiques that would continue throughout our captivity.

Some of their comments were factual. They said large numbers of civilians had been killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Palestinian territories in aerial bombings. Muslim prisoners had been physically abused and sexually humiliated in Iraq. Scores of men had been detained in Cuba and Afghanistan for up to seven years without charges.

To Americans, these episodes were aberrations. To my captors, they were proof that the United States was a hypocritical and duplicitous power that flouted international law.

When I told them I was an innocent civilian who should be released, they responded that the United States had held and tortured Muslims in secret detention centers for years. Commanders said they themselves had been imprisoned, their families ignorant of their fate. Why, they asked, should they treat me differently?

Glenn Greenwald has been writing about this and reacts to this passage by Rohde by saying:

So much of this disparity is explained by a basic lack of empathy: imagine if every American spent just a day contemplating how they'd react if some foreign army from a Muslim nation invaded and bombed the U.S., occupied the country for the next several years with 60,000 soldiers, killed tens of thousands of citizens here, set up secret prisons where they disappeared Americans for years without charges or even contact with the outside world, imposed sanctions that blockaded food and medicine and killed countless children, invaded and ransacked our homes at will, abducted Americans and shipped them halfway around the world to island-prisons, instituted a worldwide torture regime, armed their allies for attacks on other Western nations, and threatened still other invasions.

Do you think Americans might be seething with rage about that, wanting to kill as many of the people from that country as possible? Wouldn't it be rather obvious that the more that was done to Americans, the more filled with hatred and a desire for violence they would be? Just consider the rage and fury and burning desire for vengeance that was unleashed by a one-day attack on U.S. soil, eight years ago, by a stateless band of extremists, that killed 3,000 people.

But..."they" hate us because we are free right?


Grumpy said...

First of all, the extremists who attacked us were hardly stateless; the overwhelming majority were Saudi. And the question is answered in the last line; they brought the fight to US soil. No 9/11 and we're probably not involved in two wars. I'm pretty liberal, but would you have us stand idly by while over 3,000 innocent people were murdered?

Chris Johnson said...


I don't want to speak for Glenn Greenwald, but the way that I read the term "stateless" in this context, is that those who flew the planes into the WTC were not acting on behalf of a state and were more closely associated with an organization (Al Qaeda) that is stateless.

The question here is not simply whether or not the U.S. should have retaliated after 9/11 or started a war of agression in Iraq, it is fundamentally understanding why the U.S. is hated throughout the world by these organizations. David Rohde's experience with members of the Taliban re-enforce that it is not as simple as the reasoning of "they hate us because we are free". There are specific reasons why the United States is disliked and the last eight years of killing tens of thousands of civilians, torture, disappearing people, etc...has only added to these reasons.

trey said...

I don't think anybody really says 'they hate us because we're free' anymore. At least I haven't heard it. It was a rallying cry phrase right after 9-11. Maybe you should learn how the other guy really thinks (in this case, conservative Americans) as you libs always are instructing everyone.