Charles Richardson writes:


Interesting piece in The Washington Postlast
weekend, on a US State Department panel that found “large majorities”
in the Arab world “view George W. Bush as a greater threat to the world
order than Osama bin Laden.” They probably didn’t need to go as far as
the Middle East; previous polls have shown that similar views are
widespread in Europe.

Does this just show the perverse and irrational nature of
anti-Americanism? Well, no. Assessment of a danger is not the same
thing as expressing a preference. I might well think that being burgled
would be a lesser evil than having my house burn down (burglars would
only take my valuables, but fire would destroy everything). Yet if I
live in an area with a high crime rate but a low fire risk, it might
still make sense to insure against burglary rather than fire.

Similarly, the fact that a world ruled by Osama Bin Laden would be
worse than a world ruled by George Bush – which most of us can agree on
– doesn’t end the argument. One is a fugitive in the Afghan mountains,
while the other controls the greatest military power in world history;
it’s not irrational to think that makes a difference as to which is
more to be feared.

But News Limited’s commentators still don’t get it. Glenn Milne,
for example, on Monday quoted Labor MP Julia Irwin’s reference to “the
lie that Islamic fundamentalism is the root of terrorism”, and
commented “That’s right, Julia, we’re the ones who are responsible for
blowing up people on the London underground.”

Despite Milne’s ridicule, the claim that suicide bombing is primarily
driven by secular political objectives is entirely respectable,
recently documented by Professor Robert Pape in his book Dying to Win (see interview with him here). But the blanket accusation of “anti-Americanism” allows Bush’s foot-soldiers to ignore any inconvenient facts.

Peter Fray

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