Thursday, June 21, 2007

Martyrs or traitors

from The Economist

Iraq's prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, needs to keep his distance from America to fend off accusations that he is a puppet of the occupation. And, of course, the assumption of many Muslims that a pro-American leader must in some way be a traitor to the cause extends beyond the Arab world: in Pakistan and Afghanistan Presidents Musharraf and Karzai have constantly to face down the cry that by allying with the superpower they have sold out their countries—or, worse, their religion. America's allies cannot stop the martyrs from calling them traitors. America has made itself deeply unpopular in the Islamic world by invading Iraq and standing by Israel. This is bound to taint any Muslim leader who looks as if he owes his position to American military or economic power. But guilt by association is only one half of the reason for the growing popularity of the martyrs and the spreading idea that America's allies must be traitors. The other half is that, by comparison with the traitors, the martyrs look clean.

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