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The West Might Consider Its History to Better Understand The Middle East

 

One cannot be a true political independent without offering serious critique of all political parties and a demonstrating a willingness to support either when appropriate. All too many claim the banner of independent, but find reasons to invariably support a given party whenever possible and save critique for the others. President Obama has been a great disappointment given positions that differed from campaign commitments. 

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However, it’s disingenuous, counterproductive, a bit malicious to lay the problems of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and Prime Minister Maliki on Obama. How quickly Johnny Come Lately McCain, neo-conservatives, and the Republican establishment have forgotten how we arrived at this debacle. In-fact, I’m wondering has this been the plan all along. Secure the oil reserves. Exit stage left. And leave Syria and Iraq holding the bag, entangling the two nations in regional conflicts that we precipitated. It might sound cynical, but I would not be surprised if somewhere in Washington, geopolitical suits are applauding ISIS. Sorry, Jordan and Kuwait. There are interests and there are INTERESTS.

I am the first to critique President Obama — even when friends, relatives, fraternity brothers, and people I’ve known practically my entire life take issue with me doing so. But no one benefits from treating politicians like infants to be cuddled and protected. And the black thing is about as ridiculous as it gets because long after Obama is off the presidential scene, black America will be reminded of its unwillingness to critique him – thus forfeiting the right to legitimately critique his successors. 

As such, my core concern is that many who beat the drums of war in Iraq, some of whom dodged military service, are lining up as if Obama created the current chaos in Iraq. The adventure was nonsensical from the beginning. The UK-engineered nation (Iraq) was in a more stable position with three distinct peoples — Sunni, Shia, and Kurds – constrained by a strong leader in the person of Sadam Hussein whom we unilaterally opted to depose. International analysts and media aligned in the Obama blame-game must have either slept during their history courses and or simply avoided them altogether.

The region is in serious trouble. Conveniently finger pointing at President Obama is not a productive response. Also, rather than concluding The Middle East is a hopeless region of uncivilized people, this is an opportune moment for Americans to take another course of action. That is, consider the history of Europe and its predecessor empires to better understand a region’s natural evolution. Evolution, as crude as it might seem from a time slice vantage point is evolution, notwithstanding. Indeed, an evolution that is timed as snails pace in western standards and measured along a meandering line is evolution, nonetheless. It is here that the West might consider its own course to appreciate the hills, valleys, 90-degree turns, and roadblocks that define national and regional progress.

For instance, if it surprises you after the “liberators” brought democracy, that sectarian violence has broken-out in Iraq, remember the Visigoths. Recall, this clan once crossed the Danube River for a better home in the Roman Empire. But that same Visigoth clan that once agreed to protect the Roman Empire’s borders, ultimately became dissatisfied with the arrangement, then extorted the Empire for political power. Warred against the Romans for lands of its own.

Regional instability today in The Middle East is little different than instability caused by Nordics out of Scandinavia. Constantly invading neighboring territories and robbing them of their resources, including those held by the Church. The Vikings were nothing short of terrorists, but are now the subject of celebrated myths and legends. Americans who so quickly shake their heads in disgust at The Middle East might consider myriad dysfunctional aspects of the peoples after whom the West was modeled. Family members serving in the Roman Tetrarchy that warred against one another to consolidate power. Assassinations to settle regional grievances. The great divide between Western and Eastern halves of the Empire. Germanic invasions that imploded the Western Empire, culminating in complete destruction in the fifth century.

ISIS-Iraq

If indeed The Middle East seems “backwards”, think about feudalism. Is there anything more bizarre than the judicial proceedings conducted in early Europe? Forcing citizens to dip their hands in boiling waters in order to determine guilt by seeing whether scolded hands miraculously healed? Dropping tied-up defendants in a lake or rivers to gauge guilt by whether the submerged person ultimately floated or sank? Can anyone say feudalism was any more sane by today’s western standards? Who says the clock that marked western progress indicates more virtue? Are we not all just one some timetable, with society and each region headed for their own definitions of “progress”?

If our Middle East friends are seemingly moving backwards on the evolutionary timeline, what western intrusions might we cite as contributing factors?

 

And as for those Islamic “fanatics”, has this [largely Christian] America forgotten the power grabs and political arrangements between the Roman Catholic Church and Roman emperors from Constantine onward? What about the involvement of church leaders serving as judges in the bizarre guilt-test mentioned above? If the seventy virgins promise to radicals seems weird to people in the west, is that any more strange than the acts of monastic asceticism practiced in post-pagan Rome after the reign of Julian the Apostate? What in radical Islam is more strange than early Christians in the Grazer Movement, who proved their love for the Lord by tying themselves up and living as beast of the field? Or Holy Fools, who believed if they acted like complete fools, discarding all common sense in public, that somehow they were demonstrating a life totally reliant on God’s Spirit? Or men who lived atop poles for years, including Simeon the Stylite who in the fifth century lived on a pole for 37 years? Is a veil over a woman’s face in The Middle East, oppressive by western standards, anywhere near the odd practices of the Middle Ages’ Athletes of God?

One need not know Aramaic to understand the people or ways of The Middle East. What one might rather understand is that nations are all on some continuum of development. And what appears arcane to Americans today is simply a reflection of the time from whence the West has come. Indeed, if we want to help The Middle East, it might be to impart lessons on how not to grow one’s power and operate once power is achieved. How not to make the mistakes of the West on the course of their development. To not drop atomic bombs on innocent people out of vengeance for actions their leaders took. To not go into sovereign nations, destroying forestry and marine life, in the sourcing of materials for commercial goods. To not build economies by kidnapping men, women and children – raping, injuring, and killing them – so as to make slaves. To not flood their streets with guns in order to enrich gun dealers at the expense of lives. To not fall into the perversion of men putting their penis in other men and women marrying women. To not use global power to topple sovereign governments as the U.S. did with Allende in Chile, Aristide in Haiti, Lumumba in the Congo, Mossadegh in Iran, or as suspected in the deposing of Gaddafi in Libya. To not use technology to murder 56 million unborn babies. And to not accept art-forms that glamorize treating women like meat for entertainment.

There are some understandings of The Middle East that the West can gain by pondering its own history. And there are lessons to be shared as well. But of course, this requires a relationship predicated on mutual respect — not invasions, the installation of puppet leaders, drones, or indefinite occupation.

The question is: Who will teach us that lesson?

 

 


 

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