It’s the video that has gripped the entire world. Anyone and everyone’s talking about it. Almost all news channels are running it as their main headline while newspapers are running it as their cover story. Op-eds, blogs, articles, tweets; you name it, have been written about it. From President Obama to the Taliban to the “naan wala” near my house, everyone has voiced their opinion about it. America’s immediate condemnation of the video doesn’t surprise me. Neither does the violent response to the video across the Middle East surprise me. But what does surprise me is how everyone (government officials, analysts, pundits etc.) seems to misconstitute the backlash that followed, to the video itself, rather than to the root of the problem- America’s foreign policy in the Islamic World.
For decades Muslims have viewed American policies in the Islamic World with suspicion. In fact as early as 1959, the Saudi King Saud said to Pakistan’s then President, Ayub Khan- “America cannot be trusted”. Since than faces of power in the Islamic World have changed but the suspicion has remained. Since September 11, 2001 that suspicion has only gotten stronger. Add into the mix the anger over US misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, drone attacks in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and Afghanistan, and you have the perfect recipe for disaster.
Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, brushed aside suggestions by a reporter yesterday in a press conference that the protests might have something to with Obama administration’s foreign policy. She remarked instead that under President Obama, US has a more favorable rating around the globe. A statement that in this context is utterly false since US is viewed more negatively in the Islamic World now than it was under President Bush. Only Europe views US more positively under Obama than Bush.
What most people fail to realize is that the video was merely an excuse. An opportunity. It provided the people with a way to release decades old frustration. A frustration that is builded because the people view their governments stance on relations with the US as contradictory to the will of the masses. Monarchies, dictators and fragile democracies across the Islamic World insure that the people aren’t given the opportunity to decide whether relations with the US should be attained or scrapped. Unfortunately this also means that it is nearly impossible to know how much of the protester’s view represents that of the masses. It is a vicious circle where frustrations continue to build among the people until the day when something like the anti-Islam video pops up out of nowhere and provides people with the perfect opportunity to take it all out.