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United States: A tale of morals and cruelty - Daily News Egypt

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United States: A tale of morals and cruelty

By Mohammed Nosseir There is no doubt that the United States of America is by far the most controversial nation among Arabs. Consecutive US Administrations have somehow managed to cultivate an intense love-hate relationship with millions of Arabs. The valid question ‘Why do they hate us?’, raised in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, can …

Mohammed Nosseir
Mohammed Nosseir

By Mohammed Nosseir

There is no doubt that the United States of America is by far the most controversial nation among Arabs. Consecutive US Administrations have somehow managed to cultivate an intense love-hate relationship with millions of Arabs. The valid question ‘Why do they hate us?’, raised in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, can more appropriately be replaced by another relevant question: ‘How can they hate us and love us at the same time?’ The irony here is that, to a great extent, the very same Arabs who hate the United States for its actions, admire many of its qualities.

I believe that, as a superpower, the United States controls its relationship with Arab citizens; it is able to regulate the doses of love or hate among Arabs and Muslims. According to the game rules laid down by the US, the Arab role is simply to fill in the gaps. The US proffers outstanding qualities; laudable internal values, appreciated by the majority of its citizens and often guaranteed by the rule of law and the system of checks and balances. Moreover, the country has the courage to face up to and overcome any internal challenges or deficiencies it may face (inequality among its citizens and the use of torture abroad).

Still, it is well-known that most US citizens are physically and mentally isolated from the rest of the world. Concerned only with domestic affairs, they are not really bothered with their country’s foreign policy – which is handled by the few hundred citizens who ignore their nation’s internal moral values and apply US cruelty on the ground. Should the United States fail in an overseas incident, the vast majority of its citizens don’t even notice it – and they would be powerless to change or influence events in any case. Furthermore, when it comes to foreign interference, the United States is not accountable either to its citizens or to the United Nations.

I have realised over time that President Obama’s speeches, with their outstanding rhetoric concerning the values upheld by the United States in conducting its foreign policy, are in reality addressed to US citizens; to assure Americans at home that their country’s foreign policy implements the internal values they hold so dear. Thousands of miles away, the ugly reality on the ground is incompatible with all moral values.

Arabs who have had the opportunity to visit the United States can understand and appreciate that country’s qualities. Once they have successfully surmounted the (often-painful) entry visa process, they are impressed by US structure, values, knowledge, lifestyle, trends and many other positive aspects. Personally, whenever I am in the US, I try to grab some sort of educational knowledge, always a wonderful and enriching experience. Unfortunately, this knowledge is never conveyed to our region.

I have tried on numerous occasions to explain my theory about the ‘internal morality and external cruelty of the United States’ to various Arabs and Muslims. Their response has often been, ‘who cares?’ The vast majority of Arabs and Muslims only deal with the ugly side of the United States, particularly its track record of repeated military interferences in Arab and Muslim countries. The fact that US citizens believe in, and abide by, a set of admirable values is of no importance to Arabs and Muslims.

Concerning Middle East security issues, the United States always wants to think and act on behalf of Arab nations, claiming that it has its own missions and justifications, including fighting terrorism, promoting democracy and putting the region in better order. The US government proclaims that Iraq, now a democratic country, is better off than it was under Saddam Hussein, that if not for US interference, Libyan citizens would never have managed to get rid of Gaddafi, and that no practical solution exists to the conflict in Syria that has produced thousands of deaths and millions of refugees. This attitude applies also to the recent ISIS challenge; the Arab nations alone could easily have tackled this threat, but the US was keen to lead this battle too and it is obviously bearing the consequences of its decision.

However, let’s not debate the intentions behind US interference in the region. The key question is; do Arab citizens generally value or condemn the US role in the current situation? The vast majority of Arabs certainly does not appreciate any form of US interference – not even that which concluded in the ousting of corrupt autocratic leaders. This interference has compounded Arab and Muslim hatred of the US. Different Arab rulers were happy to fuel this sentiment, while the United States has never genuinely cared about correcting its image in the region.

Conflicts and battles have transformed the Middle East into an extremely heated region, driven by power and violence. While the United States is certainly not the initiator of this violence, it has been fuelling it over the past decades, thus playing a destructive role in the region. Excessive use of force is definitely a behaviour that the United States and the Arabs have in common. In coping with the challenges in the Middle East, both parties prefer wielding power to engaging in dialogue. The difference is that while the US resorts to organised force (its military forces) and pressurising Arab rulers into alliances, those Arabs who disagree with this course turn to either deep hatred or terrorist activity. Regardless of who is on the right side of history, the significant point here is that each party has its own justifications and regional admirers.


The United States views the world through what is called ‘US interests’. In the ongoing debate among Americans on what best serves their country’s interests, no thought is given to the interests of non-US citizens (especially the interests of their respective countries). The US often manages to persuade or pressurise Arab leaders into serving its interests. It has never been concerned that these interests might have a negative impact on Arab citizens, and undeniably damaging consequences on Arab-American relations. On the rare occasions when US foreign policy defends a given moral value, it does so to pressurise respective Arab rulers – not in defence of the value per se. As a result, the hatred felt by Arab and Muslim citizens towards the United States has accumulated intensely over time.


To offset the above, and in an attempt to promote its moral values, the United States tries to reach out to the world by donating billions of dollars to international organisations and offering hundreds of scholarships to various foreign students. Nevertheless, the true objective behind these actions is to serve US national interests, either by manipulating recipient organisations or by ‘Americanising’ scholarship students. I have observed many students who have studied in the United States. Although they appreciate the opportunity they received to enhance their knowledge, they continue to reject US behaviour in the region. In other words, the few hundred individuals that the United States is investing in continue to be displeased with its interference in the region.

The recently released ‘Torture Report’ that triggered a widespread debate on the right to use torture among US citizens clearly defines the conflict between moral values and cruelty. Even so, Americans in general missed an important point: the counter reactions of both the innocent and the guilty detainees and their affiliates. No mechanism exists that allows the innocent victims of torture to prosecute the United States. As for the guilty, being subjected to torture will certainly intensify their proclivity for violence and determination to exact revenge. The question here is: does the use of torture make the United States a foe or a friend of the Arab World?

In conclusion, the turmoil in the Middle East would certainly calm down were the US to decide to extend its internal moral values to the region. The debate on the ‘Torture Report’ is an expression of the fine internal mechanisms in place in the US. However, I was shocked to learn that roughly two-thirds of the American people still envision circumstances in which torture is justified. This means that the violence in our region will persist for years to come, adversely affecting thousands of innocent people.


Mohammed Nosseir is an Egyptian Liberal Politician working on reforming Egypt on true liberal values, proper application of democracy and free market economy. Mohammed was member of the Higher Committee and headed the International Relations of the Democratic Front Party from 2008 to 2012

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  • sam enslow

    Another one sided argument. What about American disdain for Arabs and the causes behind it. It should be noted that US foreign policy is a matter of constant debate in the US. It is true the American people are for the most part isolationists.
    On Libya: The US, actually NATO, became involved at the request of The Arab League to end the slaughter. This was a fight that could have been better managed by Arabs themselves, but, ‘We cannot interfere in the affairs of another country., In other words, we can only run our mouths. This reminds me if Mubarak’s answer to Arab demands for a war against Israel during the last war in Lebanon. He said no, but he offered free passage to any Arab armies wanting to fight. No one showed up. Arabs like wars when others bleed and die. NATO withdrew from Libya because The Arab League demanded it. ‘ No colonialism’ and ‘They are there only for the oil.’ were the thanks from the Arabs.
    On Syria: The West was told to stay out by Arab countries and The Arab League. When the League could not agree in what to do, they turned the matter over to the UN knowing Russia’s position and veto power. Obama pulls a bluff to get rid if chemical weapons, and the Arabs complain we did not invade. Had we invaded these same people would have complained America thinks it is policeman to the word. America saw Morsy’s ‘Conference on Syria’ and noted not all if the nuts were Egyptian or members of The Brotherhood. Even today there are Arabs who complain that America will not put boots in the ground. But no Arab state offers its troops on the ground. They want a US imposed non fly zone when they have the air forces to enforce such a zone on their own thus preventing another Russia/US conflict. Funny Russia’s role in the arena is not a subject covered in the Arab press.
    On Iraq: I was against thus war. But once Saddam was removed and US military operations ceased, Muslims killed Muslims while claiming thus was because they were angry at the US. No one fought for Iraq. Aid money traveled to Swiss bank accounts or to banks in other countries. Sectarian hatreds and the quest for control of oil revenues, not Iraq, was the focus of Iraqi politicians.
    On Egypt: Since the 25 January revolution, every political movement has stated the US supports the either side. Mubarak said the CIA was passing out $100 bills in Tahrir Square while the revolutionaries said we only supported Mubarak and SCAF. The Brotherhood claimed we supported SCAF and would not support them – ‘Look at his they treat Hamas.’ When the people got upset with The Brotherhood, it became in Egyptian media a tool of the Americans, and on and on.
    I agree Arab countries could solve their problems, but they do not. It us their right and responsibility to do so. The American people do, contrary to this article, control their foreign policy. We heard Arabs when they said go away. We will no longer listen to Arab leaders wbi ask for help while attacking the US through its media and other propaganda machines.
    Perhaps it would better serve Arabs if they just onced questioned why they lost the support if the US government and people. I will fully admit errors in US foreign policies, but I have never heard Arabs discuss what they have done wrong or what it could do better.

    • Reda Sobky

      There is always an overt and a convert position and plan. Deniability and double games are common. For example, if i wanted to escalate a conflict in any country, I can start arming both sides and giving them money, directly or through surrogates, to attack each other and nobody need know I am behind anything except what I tell them or am willing to admit. If my goal is to neutralize a country, it can be accomplished without direct military action. The new game is to feed conflict until the society splits up into armed camps that start to fight and then divide it into fiefdoms based on religion. The game theory that you use to analyze and and interpret positions is obsolete in this kind of setting where many players support both sides in order to destroy the arena, sometimes called a “double game”. Actually, there are types of double games which when compounded in one situation can be convergent or divergent ie designed to produce more uniting or more centrifugal influence as there is a whole other protocol on how to make countries (like South Sudan), independent entities…etc. Much more complex than your presentation would indicate and if you get a little deeper into it a new vista will open up.

  • Bill Fortune

    you will never and can never solve the problem by trying to solve the symptoms of the problem, something that 99.5% of people do.
    I contend that the basic problem is religion and the forcing of “your” religion onto others. Tell the people in the troubled areas in the world to keep their own religion in their own place of worship and within their own home; show others how “your religion is better than others” so to get others to follow.
    Until then, when our friends ask us to help them with our military because our friends are being attacked, we will bring Hell on Earth to those that want to harm or control others.
    It’s the people’s choice !!!

  • sam enslow

    Also no mention of those countries that served as torturers for hire. Should not victims have the right to bring them to court? This is no was excuses terrible behavior by the US, but shows a little selective outrage on the part of the author.

  • Illuminati

    I am not sure what the angle here is, but I think that you
    are trying to say that the US, which contends to being a representation of moral values, domestically, acts unethically abroad, thus, being “hated” by most Arabs. You also contend that the root cause of the negative view of America is its “interference” in Arab affairs as well as its record on human rights abroad, which you claim is drastically different from the domestic one. You also maintained that American foreign policy is focused solely on US interests, with little to no regards to other citizens of the world, and that in doing so, the US damages “Arab American” relationships either by “persuading” or “pressuring” Arab leaders into “serving
    their interests”. You went as far as suggesting that when the US reacts to a situation from a moral standpoint, it is doing so under false pretenses, only to also “pressure” Arab leaders. You also claimed that while the US is not the initiator of violence in the Mid-East, it has been “fueling it” over the past decade, through excessive use of force rather than “dialogue”.

    Then you conclude that this excessive use of force to “pressurize” Arab leaders is what creates deep hatred or terrorist activity. All this, you mentioned above, is yet another conspiracy theory, and a representation of extreme political naiveté, which we, Arabs, have grown to be quite the experts at.

  • Illuminati

    Well, let’s try to correct few misconceptions:

    The US, like any other nations, is concerned
    about its interests, and in so doing, the US does not, and will not, always act with the same level of integrity that the Bill of Rights guarantee to its own citizens.

    American foreign policy isn’t a one man or one council policy. It is shaped by attitudes in the white house as well as those in both chambers of congress. Take a look at the white house’s position on Iran and that of the white house. Or how congress and the department of state differ on Egypt. The one time an Arab nation tried to lobby congress in its favor, and somewhat managed to do so, was Egypt in its attempt to justify July 3rd coup. If you really want to understand American foreign policy, you have to analyze it within this context. If Arab countries want to work with, or around, US foreign policy, they need to understand first how it is shaped, and provided they did that, I assure you results will be different.

    US administrations are different and have behaved and reacted differently. Arabs never make that distinction. They cannot tell if the current administration would behave or act the same to the one who was complicit in a 1973 coup in Chile, or a 1953 coup in Iran. Some speak in 2015 about incidents of American policy from the last century reference them as the norm. As a scholar, you should be able to make that distinction.

    You did not even define interference. What is interference? Does a statement by Jen Psaki in response to human rights abuses in Arab countries constitute interference? According to your Egyptian foreign ministry, it does, but I think it fails the reasonable-person test which courts need to administer to decide on a subjective matter.

  • Illuminati

    The current situation in the Middle East is a result of our failures as Arabs, and no one else’s. When Arab leaders and monarchs have little or no regard to theircitizens, how do you expect others to care? The US wouldn’t have tortured terror suspects if it had to do so in America. If Arab leaders would have refused to host these suspects and do the dirty work, do you think we would be talking about this now? If your claims about a pressuring US foreign policy, do you think Arab leaders could be pressured had they been democratically elected?
    Do you think turmoil in the region would continue if Arab nations had a mature foreign policy? If they even had a workable constitution? Do you think if Arabs ever acted alone, in what they perceive as their best interest, without waiting the Us to lead, they would be in the situation they are in now? (look at how KSA was so so upset when America decided NOT to interfere in Syria). Do you not
    see that Arab influence in post June 30th has been more than that of America? So regardless of whether or not America’s foreign policy, the outcome was already shaped by regional powers. Why don’t Turks have the issues with America like we do? Or Malaysians or Indonesians- all of which have Muslim majorities. Do you know why? Because their intelligentsia didn’t learn conspiracy theory at school.

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