May you and yours be blessed and watched over, with zealousness.
Hi Q. Thanks for the blessing.
- I hadn’t intended to send another reply, but I’m inherently weak-willed.
- In my preceding post, I was trying to put a really complicated situation in a rounded perspective and that’s hard to do on the fly in this kind of format, without having to go back and forth forever clarifying points.
- My effort at giving perspective was not to provide excuses for any murderous ideology or suggest we should cut Osama some slack because he’s misunderstood. I was only trying to sum up the most basic background to all of this and suggest how this background conditions thinking on the respective sides.
- When I use the word “colonialism” it’s not as leftwing jargon, but simply a collective term for summing up a concrete situation. Since the break up of the Ottoman Empire in 1917 or thereabouts, the Middle East has been dominated by Western powers, by the French and English in the first half of the 20th century and by the U.S. ever since. And when I say “dominated”, I mean that Western powers, to protect their interests in the region, have repeatedly justified political and military intervention, which local governments are in general powerless to prevent. A country that is unable to secure its own borders, except through the acquiescence of a foreign power is at the very least not fully independent. So having colonies in a legal sense is not the point; foreign domination equivalent to colonialism is.
- Sure, the situation has been in constant evolution. The British operated in one way, the French in another, and the U.S. has its own style. (I appreciate what you said about the changing trade deals; for all the controversy, I give the U.S. credit whenever it makes progress in this direction.) Each dominant nation will claim its own virtues and tend to be blind to its own faults. But in the end many of these interventions have ended in disaster, making life worse not better for people in the Middle East.
- Take Iran, for example. British Petroleum had big interests there; a new government came in intent on nationalizing the oil industry, which the British were naturally not in favour of. Many complications later, the British were replaced by Americans; the CIA helped thwart the nationalist government, brought in the Shah and supported his U.S. business-friendly government until he was overthrown by a popular revolution in 1979. And ever since, we’ve had the rule of those charming Mullahs. (The optimistic point here is that if Iran had a popular revolution once they can have one again, hopefully soon, to put the Mullahs on a leash.)
- This is not pointing fingers. This is not blame America. This is not conspiracy theory. These are matters of public record. And it’s just one example out of many in the history of Western interventions in the Middle East over the past century.
- So yes, the fundamental problem for these countries is their own weakness & disarray, which invite interventions in the first place, but these interventions can have devastating consequences.
- A foreign intervention is a kind of jujitsu; a small pressure applied at a critical point can have a huge effect. And in the minds of the colonized it’s a kind of psychological jujitsu, creating a kind of demon out of the foreign power who can become the scapegoat for every failure.
- Speaking of failure, it may be that I’ve failed again in getting these points across, but let me try to be as frank as I can be.
- It’s not a matter of excuses for either side. It’s a matter of dropping the b.s.
- For any Muslim to claim that this whole phenomenon is simply a matter of U.S. foreign policy, as has been claimed, unfortunately, on this very forum, is frankly unacceptable, if not altogether incredible. And I think it’s an insult to every Muslim to imply that they are so bereft of the ability to manage their own affairs that they can only scapegoat foreign powers.
- On the other hand, for any Westerner, American or otherwise, to claim simple incomprehension and a status of complete innocence while refusing to even glance at the historical roots is at best a head-in-the-sand, and at worst a straight out hypocrite. (Note to Q: this is not directed at you, but at the extreme case.) Innocent people from all nations were murdered in New York on 9/11. These were indeed innocents. But governments, however well managed, are never innocent. How could they be, in this fallen world? And no Western government that has been involved up to its ears in the Middle East for decades can claim innocence in the face of terrorism arising from that region.
- It’s my view that unless we understand the underlying conditions & mindsets we may be doomed, as I’ve said, to a downward spiral.
- So yes, let’s hunt terrorists, violent ideologues, psychotics, Islamo-fascists to the ends of the Earth, but lets use our heads as well as our guns.
- Lynden Johnson famously said that Gerald Ford couldn’t chew gum and walk at the same time. But this is precisely what we have to do.
- Chasing bad guys with no understanding on the part of the public of where in blazes they’re coming from will only result in a hideous version of the Keystone Kops, ending in holocaust.
- We must act. But we must understand.
All the best. And a non-theistic blessing to you, if that carries any weight.
P.S. - I've stayed away from the Palestinian/Israeli issue; it's a can of worms of course and we may be operating from different planets on this. I thought I'd have a better chance of communicating my point of view on the broader issues.