Unfortunately we are not rational actors. We are insecure globalist philosophers looking for international love in all the wrong places. All the conspiracy theories assume that we know what we’re doing. We don’t. Instead of looking out for our interests, we formulate grandiose plans for transforming the region by applying our political philosophies to societies and cultures where it doesn’t fit, because our political class operates on cliches and rote truisms that would embarrass a seventh grader.
The Egyptians assume that we want territory, bases, trading concessions or at least power. But no. We want to achieve regional stability by empowering popular voices. We want to teach the world to sing. We want everyone to follow international law and attend our conferences to boast about all the improvements in LGBT rights they made this year. In other words, we’re something being fanatical hippies with nuclear missiles and idiots.
In Tahrir Square they assume that if Obama is backing Morsi, then the two men have come to some sort of arrangement that is in America’s interest. There is no way to convince them otherwise because it would require somehow making them understand that our government is run by people who walk a fine line between treason and idiocy, to whom the very notion of national interests is an obscenity. You could get every member of the faculty of Al Azhar to sit down to a repast of beer and ham sandwiches before you would get a single member of Obama’s foreign policy team to agree that American national interests should trump experimenting with democracy in Egypt.
A small measure of our stupidity is the simple fact that we have an expert class whose explanations for why we are hated all involve our foreign policy and none of them involve the simple fact that most countries hate other countries.
Why would Egypt or Pakistan or any of our other Islamic Juliets standing on the balcony in full Burqa in the desert wind, not hate us? Even if we took Islam out of the picture by converting wholesale, it wouldn’t make much of a difference. Most of the Muslim world also hates each other. They probably hate each other even more than they hate us and it’s not because of anyone’s foreign policy.
It’s not accidental that the two truisms in foreign policy circles is that we hated because of our support for dictators or for Israel. The former was a propaganda ploy of the Soviet Union looking to undermine American foreign policy through moral insecurity. And the legion of State Department stooges and expert journalists who did Moscow’s bidding helped make that a fact that no one would argue with. The latter came further south from Saudi Arabia and parts nearby with the intention of driving a wedge between Israel and the United Stares, to make Washington even more reliant on the Saudis.
But lies and errors don’t dig their way in that deep without a weak point. And the American weak point is that same weary liberal globalism that believes the brotherhood and sisterhood of man is just a few more regulations, microfinance seminars and UN sessions away.
The liberal foreign policy experts want to head an empire. But they want it to be some sort of voluntary empire based on moral superiority that doesn’t require them to conquer anyone or dictate to anyone. They want all the fun of running the world, but they don’t want to get any blood on their hands or stains on their worldview to achieve this benevolent dictatorship of the planet.
In a sense the conspiracies about the United States are right. And they’re wrong. There are people at the helm who manipulate other governments for their own interests. But those interests are not national. They’re post-national.
The liberal and liberalized elites will bend over backward to show that they can be trusted not to abuse international or multinational power for the gross and petty concerns of their own nation. It isn’t the welfare of the United States that interests them. It’s the welfare of the world. Our elites want to be loved. They don’t want to rule over people who hate them. Their fondest dream is to have the peoples of the world acknowledge their moral superiority and the benevolence of their tyranny. They don’t want America to be liked because they care about America. They want America to be liked, because they want to be liked. America is just their footprint on the world stage. Along with Europe and the rest of the Anglosphere.
The Muslim World finds such a worldview bizarre and irrational. Its leaders may deploy Islamic rhetoric which walks the fine line of post-nationalism, but that is only because they see Islam as a broader form of tribal unity for the Arab and even the non-Arab peoples of the Muslim World. Like their liberal counterparts, they are interested in the world. But unlike our leaders, they aren’t about to give up their interests and allegiances to get there.