2008: As excited as Europeans were to see Democratic senator Barak Obama
elected president in the U.S., there turned out to be an unexpected cloud
around that silver lining. Namely, it's that blacks, and minorities in general,
have made far less social progress in Europe than in the United States. Obamas
election is just another, and rather striking, example of this. This also goes
a long way towards explaining why there have been no terror attacks in the U.S.
since 2001. And why the 2001 terrorists were warned to stay away from American
election is not an exception, but part of a long trend. An Indian-American was
recently elected governor of Louisiana, and in 1996, a Chinese-American was
elected governor of Washington state. As much as other nations preach equality
and opportunity, it's the United States where it actually happens. Not just
with politicians, but academics, business executives and military leaders.
Colin Powell becoming chief of the U.S. armed forces two decades ago was not
exceptional, when you consider the number of African-Americans who have
achieved high rank in the military over the last half century. In Iraq and
Afghanistan, the locals, and allied troops, often finding themselves facing a
black face when they have to deal with an American general, or battalion
commander. This is a unique experience for the Iraqis and Europeans. In the
Arab world, Africans have been looked down on for thousands of years, because
of the slave trade. Many people of African ancestry are still enslaved in Arab
countries (despite the practice being finally outlawed there since World War
II). As a result of that, it's very difficult for a Saudi or Iraqi of African
ancestry to rise very far in society. Not so, much to their surprise, in America.
there is not nearly as much acceptance of foreigners compared to the United
States. This is the main reason why Europe has more problems with Islamic
terrorists than the United States. There are more subtle problems as well. Many
NATO countries have sent peacekeepers to Afghanistan, but have not been able to
use their Moslem soldiers as well as they thought they could. It's not that
NATO thought they would have a lot of linguists, as very few of their Moslem
troops came from Afghanistan. In fact, most of the Moslem troops in NATO
armies, were born in Europe (it was usually their parents who emigrated, most
commonly from Turkey or North Africa).
believed that, as Moslems, they would have a better rapport with the Afghans.
That did not happen. Part of the problem is that Afghans, in general, are not
crazy about foreigners, no matter what their religion. They are particularly
hostile to Turks and Arabs. The former, because there is a Turkish minority in
Afghanistan that has long been seen as a threat to the Indo-European tribes
(the Pushtuns and Tajiks) who have traditionally dominated the area. Arabs are
disliked because they comprised most of the al Qaeda personnel in Afghanistan.
Those al Qaeda "troops" eventually became enforcers for the Taliban,
using force to encourage compliance with unpopular Taliban directives.
commanders did discover about their Moslem troops was not very encouraging.
Most of these young Moslems joined the military just for the money. They wanted
to get a job, and it is very hard for immigrants, or the children of
immigrants, to get jobs in Europe. The military was always looking for
volunteers, but most young guys saw being in uniform as no fun at all. So many
Moslems were accepted, if not welcomed. Few of the NCOs, and hardly any
officers in European armies are from emigrant families. This is in sharp
contrast to the United States, where there are many Arab and Moslem NCOs and
officers in the military, and the commander of all U.S. troops in the Middle
East and Afghanistan (2003-2007) was an Arab-American Christian.
Moslems were held in low esteem even before 911. Since then, fear of terrorists
has translated into even more disdain for Moslems. This carries over into the
military, where officers and NCOs often distrust their Moslem troops, or simply
show disdain for them. Senior commanders recognize that they have a problem
with Moslem troops, and it's not always the fault of the Moslems. This makes it
easier for Islamic radicals to recruit European soldiers. In one striking
example, a British soldier, who was born in Iran and acting as the interpreter
for the British commander in Afghanistan, was caught trying to sell military
secrets to Iran.
problems in the U.S. military, or civil society. Many Europeans, and Moslems,
have long asserted that the U.S. was simply indulging in tokenism by appointing
blacks to senior government or military positions (while ignoring the large
number that were careerists, and had already reached high, but not the most
senior, ranks). They can't explain away Obama as another example of tokenism
(although some will, including the senior leadership of al Qaeda.)