Anti-Americanism: a mark of jealousy

“We will sacrifice our own blood” ranted Hassan Nasrallah in an attempt to make his voice matter in the worldwide sea of violence fueled by an effort made by Muslim fundamentalists to capitalize on a new wave of anti-Western feelings.

The background of a poorly realized and badly filmed openly insulting movie against Islam, firstly edited over one year ago, is at the base of this new fire in the Arab and Muslim world.

Nevertheless, ignorant crowds and blood thirsty extremists do not solely act in a protest of a precise movie or caricature; they act against something they cannot control: their sub-conscious jealousy of the United States and everything they represent.

Political Islamism, may it be Sunni or Shia, as risen in the last decades and especially since the Arab Spring, to heights it may have never dreamt of, yet its socio-political discourse remains basically without true international repercussions.

A single drawing made by a “nobody” in Denmark, a vicious youtube production presented by a utterly unknown American producer and a set of derogatory caricatures on the front page of a scandal oriented French magazine can inflame Muslims passions.

On the other hand, years of speeches and genocidal threats issued by Arab and Iranians anti-Western leaders do not result in any major events. In the United States, Europe and Israel, we prepare ourselves the best way we can for terrorist attacks and violent confrontation, the rest just became part of “business as usual”.

This may be exactly it, the United States keep on maintaining a relative freedom of action internally and externally. It is undeniable that President Obama policies have diminished Washington standing in the region and that its unwillingness to take bold action in much needed times project an image of weakness.

If that cannot be downplayed, it is also true that the US remain the only State in the world to openly and unequivocally support Israel. The Jewish State simple existence represents the protracted failure of all fundamentalist discourses. From Al Qaeda to Hezbollah, from Hamas to the Iranian Ayatollahs the core message resides in the destruction of Israel.

When Nasrallah shouts that he will sacrifice his blood – which he so intensely tries not to by hiding 99% of the year – he knows that these are only words. In battle against the United States or Israel, neither Hezbollah nor Al Qaeda can ever produce any lasting strategic victory. Horrendous terrorist attacks do only serve the purpose of inflicting casualties, not winning wars.

Even if Iran develops nuclear weapons, it will never be able to “liberate” what its leadership considers as “occupied” Jerusalem.

The ongoing rage directed against the United States is a further signal of jealousy. Jealousy directed against Washington freedom of political, social, military and cultural action. No Islamist movement is able to even image that degree of liberty.

Thriving to find excuses to burn American flags, attack consulates, torch schools and reiterate threats to Israel does not prove religious piousness but instead highlights an immense lack of political creativity. It is so simple to keep on pointing on the acts of others and define itself as the victims of uncontrollable attacks. The reality is that fundamentalist movements need these kind of events to justify their own existence.

Jealousy is here also to be seen as that burning feeling that without the notion of Kafir no Islamist movement could exist. Liberal democracies can and do prosper without the continuous and intrinsic need of war while terrorist and radical movement can’t.

The so-called “resistance” cannot exists without its paranoiac link to Israel, Islamists worldwide cannot prosper without continuous and irrational attacks against the “West” and Muslim Brothers accept democracy only when it favors them.

Discontent and protests against certain defamatory pieces is a normal feeling. Yet, no sensible religious person would kill unarmed men and women, burn schools and call for war over these issues. Muslims rejecting this violence should keep on calling for enhanced interfaith dialogue while accepting a trademark of modern American culture resides in its freedom of speech and dissent.

While dialogue on specific issues might, in the future, represent a long term positive evolution on the relations between Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities, the ongoing violence sparked by representative elements of fundamentalists and radical movements keeps on providing examples that significant parts of Muslim societies see in violent anti-Americanism a way to maintain relevance and escape the inherent jealousy created by their repeated social and international failures.

About the Author
Riccardo Dugulin is an independant international affairs analyst. He holds a Master in International Security from the Paris School of International Affairs (Sciences Po) and has worked in leading think tanks in Washington DC, Beirut and Dubai and has held the position of security coordinator for a security assistance firm.