March 2, 2006

Hesperophobia, or rightful resentment of American interference?

A reader writes in reply to my column endorsing John Derbyshire's "Hesperophobia" theory:

"Derbyshire is full of it. The west is hated in the Islamic world for its actions; the long history of invasion and meddling (starting with the Brits), support for “friendly” dictatorships like the Saudis, and above all, one-sided support for Israel..."

Okay, but how many times as the US recently intervened to help Muslims?

Afghanistan versus Soviet invaders 1980-1988
Kuwait versus Saddam 1991
Somalia versus starvation 1992
Bosnia versus Serbs 1995
Kosovo versus Serbs 1999

And look how much appreciation that has earned us in the Muslim world!

It's our being powerful enough to do favors for pitiful Muslims that makes them hate us -- for being so much more powerful than them. As Ben Franklin pointed out, to get somebody to like you, don't do them a favor -- because that just makes them resent that you can. Instead, have them do you a favor, and then they will want to do you more favors.

For example, the French loved us for more than a century after they beat Britain for us in 1781, giving us the Statue of Liberty as a token of their affection. But after we repaid them in 1917 ("Lafayette, we are here!") and 1944, they've come to resent us for being able to rescue them.

(Consider in contrast how the whole world has forgiven or forgotten Italian aggression in the 1930s and 1940s [e.g., Mussolini's attempting, but failing, to conquer Greece] because it was so endearingly incompetent. In contrast, the hypercompetent German aggression of that era is obsessively rehashed in the media everyday.)

Unfortunately, there aren't that many favors Muslims can do us these days (although we shouldn't forget that the Saudis did us a huge favor in 1986 by driving the price of oil way down at our request, helping to destroy the Soviet economy for us). So, the best course at present is to try to have as little to do with them as we can. Obviously, there are limits to a policy of benign neglect -- we must, for example, continue to guarantee the security of the small Gulf oil states from 1990-type conquests -- but our military dominance is now so great that we can do this without maintaining a huge footprint on the ground in the area.

My published articles are archived at -- Steve Sailer

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