Why do they hate us? But the “they” of my question are not the al-Qaeda slaughterers, the jihadis from Leeds and elsewhere, and their sympathizers across Europe. I think we know by now why they hate us. The “they” of my question are the massed ranks of so many British opinion-formers, who act in a way that suggests they honestly think this country is the principal author of the bad things that happen to it.
Suppose we’d never invaded Iraq, and terrorists had blown up London in pursuit of their cause, what would the apologists have said about last week’s attacks? In fact we know exactly what they would have said because many of them did say it after al-Qaeda attacked the U.S. on September 11 – long before any American or British soldier set foot in Afghanistan or Iraq. They said it was because of our support for Israel and its “brutal occupation of Palestinian territory,” our complicity in the victimization of Arabs from the Balfour Declaration to the ascent of the Jewish lobby in America.
But what if there had never been an Israel and instead a Palestinian state existed peaceably in the heart of the Middle East, and the terrorists had still attacked us? What would the apologists have said then? They would have said, of course, that we were to blame for having abused the Arabs and Muslims generally for decades through our colonial ambitions and economic exploitation of Arabia and the broader Middle East.
And what if there had never been a British Empire and British occupation of Arab lands, and terrorists had still attacked us? Then it would have been the Crusades, and the long-standing ill-treatment of Muslims at the hands of deplorable Christian warriors.
And what if there had never been a crusade, and they’d still attacked us? I’m stumped at this point to confect an answer, but I can guarantee that whatever it was that would have been said it would have been Britain’s fault.