“Americans don’t know much about the Middle East, they think they do, and their vision, I hate to say it, is that the Middle East is filled with terrorists,” James Hanley, Associate professor of Political Science from Adrian College in Michigan, said.
Hanley was speaking about the US policy toward Lebanon and the region during Imad Salamey’s class on Lebanese domestic and international affairs on November 5.
He explained that, while watching Al Jazeera and CNN international at his hotel, he realized the gap between their coverage and that of American cable channels. They “are terrible news sources that don’t give [Americans] any good information,” Hanley said.
Hanley is planning a course where American students from Adrian College can study in the Middle East to learn about its politics first hand.
“America seems like such a bully,” Hanley admitted as he listed the countries that the US supports and the reasons for such backing. Among the names were Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel. Syria was left out.
Hanley explained that, at the moment, the United States is a world power, which justifies its desire to influence the world –with good intentions. “Americans support democracy and secularism,” Hanley said. “They are against having a Muslim state, not because of Islam but because they want the country to be liberal.”
Hanley was careful about the way he phrased his sentences but the atmosphere got slightly tense when students scoffed at one of his statements. “We support Lebanon because Lebanon is fairly supportive of Israel,” he had said. Hanley quickly rectified his faux-pas. “Comparatively, from a government’s perspective Lebanon is not seeking Israel’s destruction, and that’s what the U.S. supports,” he continued.
Hanley explained that the US will listen to the citizens that make the most noise –the Jews. “We don’t support everything the Jews do, but we support their existence absolutely,” he said.
Hanley tried to justify why Americans think the US is the best country on earth. “Lot’s of people feel the same way about their country, it’s just that when that belief is combined with power, it’s dangerous,” he said.