'MR BLAIR made the extraordinary admission that the West was in danger of losing the propaganda war. A senior aide conceded that [Osama Bin Laden's] broadcast had found a receptive audience in the Middle East.' That was the Guardian reporting on Tony Blair's tour of the Middle East last week.
Millions of people across the Middle East, who deplored the 11 September attacks on the US, are nevertheless bitter and angry at what the US and its allies are now doing in Afghanistan. Many have sympathy for Bin Laden's message when he talks of 'the suffering of the Palestinian people' and says that 'American interests are everywhere all over the world.'
The Guardian reported a poll showing that 75 percent of Palestinians denounced the 11 September attacks on the US. The same poll also showed that 89 percent of Palestinians oppose the bombing of Afghanistan. That feeling is not motivated by a hatred of American, British or Western people. Nor is it fuelled by an irrational hatred of the US or British governments.
Its roots lie in the history of Western intervention in the Middle East. The West has inflicted barbarous massacres on people throughout the region. Many of those atrocities have been as bad as, and many much worse than, the attack on the World Trade Centre.
Virtually every schoolchild in the Middle East knows the history of the West's intervention, and of generations who have suffered and died from Western interventions. The bitterness against the US and its allies is not one confined to Muslims in the Middle East. In many Middle Eastern countries a significant minority of the population are non-Muslim, and include many Christians. They too have suffered at the hands of the West.
One in four of the Palestinians killed in the intifada uprising against Israel, for example, have been Christians. Millions of people throughout the Middle East know the talk by George Bush and Tony Blair of fighting for global 'justice' is a sick joke. The West backs up the most tyrannical regimes throughout the region.
For much of the last century Britain, France and later the US have directly controlled much of the Middle East, or installed brutal dictatorships. Not a single country Blair visited last week has any real democracy, and all mete out repression and poverty to their people.
People across the Middle East are right to protest at Western imperialism. And their enemy is also ours. If the US, backed up by Britain, gets away with its war aims it will strengthen the hold of those imperialist powers across the world. It will mean more people condemned to poverty and death by the burden of debt, collected by bodies like the banks and the IMF, with the US military as their enforcer.