The recent wave of anti-American protests and riots across the Muslim world, triggered by an Islam-bashing YouTube video, has revived the “why do they hate us?” debate: Why such high levels of extremism in many Muslim societies, and why so much anger toward the United States? For some on the left and the isolationist right, the answer is clear: It’s our fault. America and our allies, the argument goes, have caused Muslims vast suffering; no wonder Muslims seize on the pretext of blasphemy to vent their anger. But, whatever one thinks of US policies, the America-blaming is simplistic and misguided — and dangerously myopic to the danger of radical Islamism.
America’s offenses —as laid out, for instance, by journalist Glenn Greenwald — involve supporting Israel over the Palestinians, backing oppressive regimes in Muslim countries, and waging wars, including the “war on terror” that still kills civilians in drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen.