Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Mea Culpa

Most egregious line from the State of the Union speech:

"We have entered a great ideological conflict we did nothing
to invite."

This one just really pissed me off. The United States and Europe have been meddling in the Middle East for a century. Whether it was Winston Churchill drawing the borders of Iraq and Jordan and making a deal with the Hashemites to rule them, in exchange for giving up Mecca to the Al Saud, or it was the C.I.A. overthrowing Iran's Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq in the Cold War 50's, or, of course, the first war we fought in Iraq, in the Middle East America has long stirred the pot.

This is not to say that the philosophies of men like Bin-Laden, men who also cite these events, hold any water. They hope to also regulate the affairs of the whole Muslim world themselves, and given the military power to do so, wouldn't stop there.

But it does explain much of the common animosity of the average person towards us. America's oil politics have been sewing the seeds of hatred there for a century. Some of this hatred is unjustified, such as the ridiculous brouhaha over the Dutch cartoons of Mohammed, and some of it is justified, such as the resentment of the massive support and aid that the West gives to tyrants and bullies throughout the region, ignoring their corrupt rule in exchange for their political support and the free flow of that black drug which George Bush pointed out last night that our nation is addicted to (buy the way, if America is addicted to oil, what does that make the oil companies?).

All of which is to say that when Bush says that we did nothing to invite this conflict, he is betraying ignorance. No surprise there, but it's a dangerous ignorance. I love my country, and I don't believe that we deserved what happened to us on September 11th. But the first step towards fixing a problem is acknowledging its existence. We have a problem with our history in the Middle East. It has made us widely reviled. This reality doesn't necessarily mean that we must take a certain course of action; where people like Chomsky go wrong is that they are great at cataloging America's ills, but offer no real alternatives of what the next step will be. Well, how about this. Let's acknowledge that American foreign policy did exist before September 11th, and that, in the past, we've done some things of which we should not be proud. Let's ask ourselves what we can do to rectify that history. Christopher Hitchens argued in the ramp-up to the war that the overthrow if Hussein was justified by America's long history of supporting oppression in the region; that it was the way that we could pay back the wrongs of the past, including our past support of Hussein himself, and give the people a chance. I didn't agree because it seemed to be an exceedingly difficult task for which our country was in no way prepared. But I acknowledge that it's a good point, and a point based on the actual real history of our actions in the region. No wonder the administration, so divorced from reality, didn't bother to make it.

Unfortunately, George Bush is not a man who even begins to understand what it's like to be afraid of a bully. Until we come to terms with our heavy-handed past, we have no real future in the Middle East.


Blogger Teethwriter said...

I have to say that you gave one of the best breakdowns of the US-Middle East situation I've read in a while. Bush talks alot about revisionist history, but when he makes statements like the one above he's the one doing the rewriting and he's doing it on a world stage, helping to stoke much animosity towards the US. Regardless whether you're Republican or Democrat, real solutions to these problems have to be hammered out and it has to be done on a much more honest and intelligent level then what we’ve had for the last five years. Until then I’ll be sure to avoid human-animal hybrids and cyborgs.

2:41 PM  

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