Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Views on the American Government


It’s a global world that we live in, and no one is central in news like the United States. US foreign policy is built on getting the American agenda across in all aspects, so across the world, people are affected by American ideals. They know about US policy, in some cases, even in more detail than many Americans.

Many people, in what is a very valid point of view, come to resent this massive intrusion into their country’s personal business. While people in Oman tend to be very friendly toward the American people as a whole, I have yet to find many people who are supportive of the American government, particularly in their intrusion into Middle Eastern affairs as of the past 70-100 years, and here’s why. The following is based on both my discussions with Omani people and research done during my Middle Eastern History Class at Amideast, and it does not necessarily represent the views of all Omani people or my personal views.

First and foremost, there is the matter of American presence in and support of an Israeli state. When Jews first moved en masse into the region of Palestine, the people who lived there were quickly moved to smaller regions of their country. They were removed from their homes. And the base of the Jewish state, the Balfour Declaration, was made by someone who quite honestly did not have the authority to give away the land in question.  However, wealthy people can do a lot of powerful things.

Omanis, being Arabs like Palestinians, look at the Israeli location in the middle of Palestine as a complete intrusion to their culture. And because the United States is so supportive of an Israeli state (and also opposed to a Palestinian one. When Palestine tried to join UNESCO and the United States withdrew funding, people here were appalled. I’m afraid I don’t know the details behind the US withdrawal of funds, but people here were not pleased). Omanis tend to view the American and governments as a bad influence in the Arab world.

Another major issue in terms of anti-Americanism is the US invasion in Iraq. I think that this one is fairly self-explanatory, but basically it’s a mostly common belief that Americans had no right to intervene in Iraq. People here, in my opinion correctly, are convinced that the United States did not have the best interests of Iraqis in mind when they ousted Sadam Hussein, but rather were enthusiastic to hold American interests in the region’s oil. Many Omanis feel as though the American military presence in the Middle East is just an intrusion where America need not intrude. But, then and again, American foreign policy is strongly based on a need to spread American influence as far and wide as possible, and this is just one example of that.

And a third reason that people tend to not appreciate the American government is the lack of commitment to relationships. Consistently, the US government supports people in power and then withdraws support, in fact vilifying the people who used to be in huge favor. This is seen over and over—Mubarak, Qaddafi, Sadam Hussein. Monarchs/despots in the region rise and then fall, often with both ends of the cycle of power at the hands of the Americans. And I think a lot of Omanis are worried that the good relations that Oman has with the USA will fall because of the patterns seen in the region.

Now, from this post, I am aware that I seem fairly pessimistic regarding Omani-American relations, but I want to stress that Oman and the USA in fact have very good relations. Omanis, while perhaps displeased with the government, are remarkably welcoming to American people. I have never felt personally hated or attacked in any way, shape, or form by an Omani, but I did want to share some of the reasons, with explanations, as to why the US government is often disliked around the world. They say (whoever the heck they are) that the first step to solving a problem is to admit it's there. To take a look at why people don't trust you, and to step back and ask yourself what can I do to improve that trust? Now, of course I am aware that my blog post here won't revolutionize American foreign policy, but I do wish that we would take a minute to step back and think about how our actions might be interpreted by other people. America has a lot of potential to improve relations in the Middle East and around the world, and I hope that we are someday able to harvest that potential.

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