Stephen Walt’s Gift to Osama

by Clifford D. May

Foreign Policy has given Stephen Walt space to write a piece headlined “Why They Hate Us,” in which he asks: “How many Muslims has the United States killed in the past thirty years, and how many Americans have been killed by Muslims?”

He calculates thusly: While “Muslims” may have killed 2,819 Americans on 9/11, Americans killed “at least 100,000” Muslims through the U.N. sanctions imposed on Iraq. While Somali “militia” killed 18 U.S. military in Mogadishu, American military men killed 315 Somali militia. While “Muslims” killed 300 U.S. Marines and diplomats in Beirut in 1983, Americans have killed up to 32,000 Afghan citizens.

He goes on and on like this. His bottom line: While “Muslims” have killed 10,325 Americans, Americans have killed 288,000 Muslims.

Walt concludes: “The United States has killed nearly 30 Muslims for every American lost. The real ratio is probably much higher, and a reasonable upper bound for Muslim fatalities (based mostly on higher estimates of ‘excess deaths’ in Iraq due to the sanctions regime and the post-2003 occupation) is well over one million, equivalent to over 100 Muslim fatalities for every American lost.”

He quotes an unnamed “prominent English journalist” who, he says, has articulated his point “quite simply.” “If the United States wants to improve its image in the Islamic world,” he said, “it should stop killing Muslims.”

Moral relativism is hardly uncommon in today’s political discourse, but refusing to differentiate between American troops trying to feed starving Somalis and Somali terrorists trying to stop the feeding program really does take the cake, so to speak.

It’s also revealing that Walt neglects to ask how many Muslims have been killed by Saddam Hussein, by al-Qaeda, by Iranian proxy death squads in Iraq, by the Taliban, and by other radical Muslim groups.

There obviously is no recognition by Walt that in recent years Americans have sacrificed lives and treasure to save Muslims from tyranny and carnage in Bosnia, Kuwait, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan — and, yes, Muslims were killed in the process because in each of these cases, except Bosnia, Muslim communities were threatened by radical Muslim groups or regimes.

You think this sort of smarmy attack on America has no impact? I received the Walt piece today on a Pakistani list-serve in which I am included. It was posted to demonstrate, once again, what sinister and untrustworthy people Americans really are.

One can imagine al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and various Islamist apologists using this as a rough guide as to how many Americans they would be justified to slaughter. This is a wonderful time for Walt to be offering such little propaganda gifts to America’s enemies, don’t you think?

Keep in mind that Walt not only publishes this pseudo-scholarship in respectable journals, he also teaches it on respectable campuses — has for years.

Walt calls himself a “realist” but I’ll need someone to explain to me where he differs from the hard, anti-American left.

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