What’s Going Wrong?
Two paragraphs from the book I just finished: _What Went Wrong: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East_, by Bernard Lewis, that struck me as especially portentious:
If the peoples of the Middle East continue on their present path, the suicide bomber may become a metaphor for the whole region, and there will be no escape from a downward spiral of hate and spite, rage and self-pity, poverty and oppression, culminating sooner or later in yet another alien domination. […] If they can abandon their grievances and victimhood, settle their differences, and join their talents, energies, and resources in a common creative endeavor, then they can once again make the Middle East, in modern times as it was in antiquity and the Middle Ages, a major center of civilization. For the time being, the choice is their own.
For growing numbers, [of Muslims] the issue is not religion or nationality, nor this or that frontier or territory, but freedom–the right to live their own lives, in a free and open society under a representative and responsible government. For them the prime enemy is not the outsider, be he defined as foreigner, infidel, or as imperialist, but their own rulers, regimes that maintain themselves by tyranny at home and terrorism abroad and have failed by every measure of governmental achievment except survival. The numbers and the influence of these freedom seekers are difficult to assess, since the public expression of such views is forbidden and subject to the direst penalties. They receive little help from those who would be their natural allies in the free world, notably those who present themselves as friends and advocates, but who prefer to deal with corrupt tyrants, provided that they are amenable, rather than risk the hazards of regime change.
For those who oppose war in Iraq, which would bring about a “regime change” that would remove a horrible autocrat, what is proposed as the alternative? War is a terrible way to achieve progress, nor is progress our stated objective; Our President publicly seeks “security” from “terrorism” and privately seeks an oil supply. I suppose the ultimate frustration is that while few really trust Bush’s motivations and desired outcome, neither can anyone abide by the status quo in good conscience, it is really just a question of betting on the least tyrannical evil. Is it America’s unelected buffoon of a President, cynically sending our kids to risk their own lives by killing Iraqis, to shore up the riches of those who put him in office, or is it the scheming dictator who needs time to plot against us, who has his own history of invading foreign countries to improve oil profits, while ensuring stability by using non-conventional weapons to repress his subjects?
If you’re not with us, your only helping someone even less palatable. I’d credit George Bush with knowing how to pick his enemies, but it was really his dad who created the enemy by calling Saddam on his invasion of Kuwait, without actually eliminating him.
Well, I may be able to make some more chocolate chip cookies this evening. As the old lady in “The Matrix” explained the benefits of cookie consumption, it ought to help me “feel right as rain.”