April 07, 2008

Conference On World Affairs: Monday Recap; Fmr. US Ambassador To Pakistan--Muslims' Dislike Of United States Is Our Fault

Both the Rocky Mountain News and the Boulder Daily Camera sent out some intrepid reporters to "blog" the day's events, no doubt inoculated against boredom with copious amounts of caffeine in order to withstand the intellectual onslaught that is the annual CU-Boulder "think fest." The CWA is offering live webcasts from two of the venues, featuring some of the key panels and topics (these feeds will resume tomorrow morning).

No bombshells were revealed today, but blame, however, made an early appearance.

From today's keynote speech--U.S.-Mideast Relations: The Cost of a Damaged Dialogue (or, how it is all really our fault that Islamic jihadists hate us):
Wendy J. Chamberlin, president of the Middle East Institute, is not focusing on the Israel-Palestinian conflict or the war in Iraq in her speech today.

Instead, she is speaking on a broader but no less challenging subject: understanding how mainstream Muslims perceive the United States.

She began by using polls and statistics to paint a picture for the audience of the mainstream Muslim community, which, according to her, admires our civil freedoms, education and entrepreneurship.

On the other hand, Chamberlin said that Muslims hold a strikingly low opinion of the United States, with only 10 percent saying the United States is a trustworthy ally.

The second half of Chamberlin's speech attempted to explain the contradiction, asking why the majority of Muslims share our values but don't like us.

"The explanations are in our actions and foreign policy," Chamberlin said.

She pointed to several contributing factors in damaging the dialogue between the US and the Middle East including:

— The high presence of U.S. troops on Muslim soil

— The treatment of Muslims at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo

— Racial profiling in the U.S. after 9/11

— A foreign policy that does not accept democratically elected leaders who hold certain views

— Rhetoric such as the "War on Terror" and "You're either with us, or against us"

— A media that focuses on the violent, extremist minority
Of course, this explains nothing--especially since most of these factors, even taken at their most negative--occurred after 9/11.

So what made them hate us before? And why does asking questions about the violence of Islam result in threats of violence from Islam?

Kind of disappointing from the former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, but not surprising given the venue.

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