The US Needs to Give Muslims and China Respect to Get Respect

Nothing irks anymore more than being told what to do by someone who believes they are holier than thou and doesn’t do what they are preaching. So it is with the US and its diplomatic advice (“preaching”) to Muslims and China. The US government and its people must give respect to get respect. They must also give them the time and economic help required for the desired changes.

Historically, sovereignty has been an issue for the Muslims and Chinese and their countries. Starting back with the Crusades and recurring again with the recent US support of authoritarian governments in Islamic countries, Muslims believe they have not been respected. In fact, two of the three Bush’s “Axis of Evil”, i.e., Iraq and Iran were Islamic countries. This and the unilateral “preemptive war” doctrine and subsequent debacle in Iraq have solidified the Muslims’ distrust of West intentions. In spite of this Muslims respect the US for its self-determination, democracy, civil rights and voting record among other things. They just don’t understand why the US won’t let the Muslims have the same in their countries. (see)

In the last century, China had imposed foreign concessions in their country. Many countries except for the US had whole areas or even cities in China under foreign rule. It was only recently that Hong Kong transferred from foreign to Chinese control. The Chinese believe they have the same territorial rights over Tibet and the island of Taiwan. Thus, outside interference regarding human rights, Tibet, etc. is seen as foreign intrusion into internal matters. These intrusions bring back the memories of foreign intrusions and concessions. China will NOT ever let this happen again. If China changes it will be by its own choice. And, it is obvious that with economic development China is changing rapidly and for the better. It just requires time before all what the West desires to become addressable.

Honor and self-respect (“face”) are critical to Muslims and Chinese and its maintenance should be crucial to the US if it is to influence them. Without respect for them they will not come to the table and, if forced to come to the table, they will no listen nor heed. So, what is the US and Western countries to do? Just stand by?

The answer is relatively simple. Encourage and support the economic development of these countries. As history has shown, economic development leads to the time and luxury of dealing with issues not related to daily existence, i.e., enlightenment. Enlightened citizens start to question the status quo. The US civil rights and women’s movements coincided with the consolidation of the middle classes almost two hundred years after the US Independence. The same will occur in Islamic Republics and China once they are comfortable with their independence and economic development. In fact, China is well on its way to economic development with it associated increasing freedoms, personal property, etc. but it needs time to work out on its own its human rights and other internal issues.

The US needs to remember that lynchings were still occurring up until the recent pass. The West must be patient and be ready to work behind the scenes and respect this peoples and countries sovereignty. Public chastisement of Muslims or China does not advance the West’s causes and in fact, it may impede progress by giving credence to extremist views.

The US and Western Countries can do worlds of good by noting displeasure with the human rights and other issues in these countries and still attend to business as usual with as much economic support as possible. Finally, the last thing the West should do is boycott the Beijing Olympics opening. This is disrespectful and would in the long run be a setback to the West’s efforts. Beijing knows the West displeasure. A boycott would just add insult to injury. The West’s presence even while expressing displeasure would go a long way to show respect while maintaining differences.

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