Thursday, January 12, 2006

On 'Syriana' - Self-loathers and perpetual victims

Amir Taheri writes about Syriana, a film starring George Cloony in which the CIA assassinate and plot to keep the Arabs in their present darkness despite their earnest attempts to modernise. This film, in its portrait of the US as plot-master and oppressor of the world, seems determined to do the same, reinforcing as it does the conviction in Arab minds that

...whatever misfortune has befallen them is due to some conspiracy by a perfidious Western power.
In North Africa where France ruled for more than a century every shortcoming, and every major crime, is blamed on the French. From Egypt to the Indian Ocean all was the fault of the British, until the Americans emerged as a more convincing protagonist in the fantasyland of conspiracy theories. (In Libya where Italy ruled for a while in the last century, even the fact that the telephones don't work in 2006 is blamed on the Italians.)
He asks rhetorically which of all the high-profile murders in the Arab world since 1900 can be blamed on the Americans or their allies.
The list of Arab leaders murdered since 1900 is a long one. It includes six prime ministers, three kings, a ruling Imam, seven presidents of the republic, and dozens of ministers, parliamentarians and senior military officials. Every single one of them was killed either by Islamist militants (often from the Muslim Brotherhood) or by pan-Arab nationalists or by radical Arab security services.
What is the effect of this work by the 'self-loathing party' in the US?
First, it says that America, being the evil power it is, is a legitimate target for revenge attacks by Arab radicals and others.
Secondly, it tells the American people that all this talk about democracy is nonsense if only because major decisions are ultimately taken by a cabal of businessmen, and politicians and lawyers in their pay.
Lastly, and perhaps without realizing it, the self-loathing Americans reduce the Arabs to the level of mere objects in their history. It is the almighty America that decides every single detail of Arab life with the Arabs as, at best, onlookers and, at worst, victims of American violence. The Arabs are even denied credit for their own terrorist acts as "Syriana" shows that it is not they but the CIA that decides who kills whom and where.
Pretending to be sympathetic to the "Arab victims of American Imperialism", the film is, in fact, an example of ethno-centrism gone wild. Its message is: The Arabs are nothing, not even self-motivated terrorists, but mere puppets manipulated by us in the omnipotent US!

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