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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Rumsfeld correct on Gulf Arab mentality

Last week a bunch of internal, informal memos written by Donald Rumsfeld were leaked out and caused a minor embarrassment to the White House. In one of them, Rumsfeld wrote that oil wealth has at times detached Muslims "from the reality of the work, effort and investment that leads to wealth for the rest of the world. Too often Muslims are against physical labor, so they bring in Koreans and Pakistanis while their young people remain unemployed. An unemployed population is easy to recruit to radicalism."

Not surprisingly, the terror-supporting CAIR complained, and the White House distanced itself from the memo.
The White House on Thursday sympathized with Arab-Americans who took offense to a memo that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld wrote saying that "oil wealth has made Muslims averse to physical labor."

Rumsfeld's belief is "not at all in line with the president's views," White House press secretary Dana Perino said.

Asked about Rumsfeld's memo, Perino acknowledged that some Arab-American groups took offense to his comment.

"We are aware that we have a lot of work to do in order to win hearts and minds across the Arab world and the Muslim world and I can understand why they would be offended by those comments," she said.

Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said Rumsfeld's comment reflects the "stereotypical attitude" that led the United States to invade Iraq.

"Our policy was never based on reality," Hooper said. "It was based on the wild ideas of those who wanted to invade the region. ... It shows you what kind of wrong-headed policymakers we had at the time."

The problem is that Rumsfeld's observations were dead-on accurate if you understand that he was referring to residents of the oil-rich Gulf states. In context, it is clear that this was what he was talking about.

Anyone reading the Saudi-based Arab News for any period of time will see more than a few stories about the problems Saudis have with the sheer number of foreign workers they've brought in, legally or illegally, and not only from Pakistan or Korea but also from poor countries in Africa. Amnesty International estimates over seven million foreign workers in Saudi Arabia alone, with limited rights.

And this is not a new phenomenon - hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs migrated to the Gulf in the fifties and sixties, not only because the the economic opportunities there but also because the local Arabs were simply lazy and the Palestinian Arabs who were willing to move and get off the UNRWA dole were hard working and ambitious. It has been observed that Palestinian Arabs essentially built Kuwait's entire infrastructure.

As far as the other half of Rumsfeld's observations, that young spoiled Arabs are ripe for recruiting into terror groups, this is also beyond dispute. As studies have shown, the average terrorist is not poor but comes from the middle class and has above-average wealth and education - and in Saudi Arabia, the middle class means that you only have two or three maids in your house.

It is not a stretch to think that these young men are the prime recruits for terror. As was reported this week, Saudi Arabia is the "hub of world terror."

So what exactly did Rumsfeld say that was wrong or offensive? His observations and inferences were as accurate as any can be about a group of people.

If the White House wants to capture the "hearts and minds" of the Arab world, it will not succeed by pandering to fantasies and myths. Distancing itself from the truth about the Arab world and the sources of terrorism is a giant step backwards.
(h/t Jihad Watch)