America is at war. But who is the enemy that America is fighting? This enemy, known generally as terrorism, lives in a different world than the American superpower.
Terrorism is the child of decades of religious disputes, histories of deep national pride, and what is seen as infringement upon Islamic holy grounds. Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East view America's presence in Saudi Arabia as blasphemous and intolerable . The preservation of face and appearance of strength are key elements in the world of the Middle East that evidence themselves in various ways. Extreme humiliation and oppression are two of the factors involved in inciting desperate people who feel shamed and weak to violent actions such as terrorism. Also, Arab nations feel that they must appear to have the superior position when taking part in foreign diplomatic negotiations. The domestic climate of an Arab nation plays a role in negotiations as well. Arab regimes must be constantly aware of their domestic situations and must be sensitive to this political climate to prevent restlessness and maintain internal stability. This world seems to be so very different than the one the United States has been living in for so long. The attacks on September 11 have brought the United States out of her own little world and into a much more complex one. Yes, America is at war, but with whom? America is at war with a much more dangerous force that does not play by conventional rules. America is in an unwelcome position; she must learn to fight a war against an enemy that she does not understand.
This essay will make an attempt to begin to understand this enemy by understanding the surrounding environment. Out of necessity, the present actions and policies of the United States must be mentioned, along with the problems that have arisen from them. However, the main focus of this essay will be to understand the Middle East, not the current United States policy toward this region of the world. So many motifs appear in these Arab nations: minority oppression, religious divisions, devout national pride, and a façade of strength. Hopefully, focusing upon these motifs will create a framework within which the current and future problems of this area may be resolved.
In large sections of the Middle East, America is seen as hypocritical because she contributes to Iraqi children dying by imposing economic sanctions while speaking of democracy and freedom. These deaths certainly do not uphold humanitarian ideals that America claims coexist with democracy and freedom. America knows that her presence in certain holy lands has been seen as a great offense to many Arabs for quite some time, but their opinions now seem to carry a bit more importance and relevance to the present situation. Why have we chosen to ignore our offensive actions for so long? The answer is simple-we didn't think that the issue was of any importance, even though the issue was central to other portions of the...