Lessons on the Middle East: Introduction

I have been, in my hiatus from blogging, studying the Middle East.  There  are no end of choices about our current problems with the the region.  Yet few newer offers really get to the historical context of modern events.  Two excellent exceptions are All The Shah’s Men, by Stephen Kinzer (2005, not all that modern anymore), and Islamic Imperialism, by Efraim Karsh (2007)

As  way of introduction, and in order illuminate a source of vaste knowledge about the true nature of Islam,  I give this link

Dr. Bill Warner details quite quickly just what is the overwhelming truth of Islamic conquest and why the world is the way it is today.  I urge anyone to have look at this video and his other offerings.

One of the things I like about All the Shah’s Men is that it explains well that, when it comes to dealing with the Middle East, there are facts, there is propaganda, and there are facts skewed in importance by propaganda.  This is really no different from any other place.  What causes the Middle East to be under the microscope is that has been the historic battle ground of empires.  From the earliest days of the Persians battling the Greco-Roman empires to the modern clashes between the Russian and British empires, it has been the battle ground of East against West.  And, from the dawn of Islam, which has sought to destroy Christiany by force, and which has indeed succeed in wiping out half of the Christian world, it has been a battleground in the death struggle of spiritual forces as well.

To the casual observer, especially those residing in America, far-removed from the constant conflict, our glimpses of the Middle East are few and seen through our own prism of 9/11.  It is looked upon by most, I think, as an isolated incident.  Our fears have been aswaged by an all-out assault of “religion of peace” propagandists to make it seem as if the most famous terrorist act in our history was a one-off by “radicals”.  As Dr. Warner points out, though, there have been 19000 jihadist attacks just since 9/11.  And, if one goes back to the beginning, the death toll of the “religion of peace” is staggering, as are the hundreds of millions of people in once-Christian nations who were forced to assimilate.

Certainly, Islam doesn’t equate with Middle East.  But, for the last 1400 years, the overlap has been enormous.  To treat the subject politically without considering Islam is utterly impossible.  And, while many of the Muslim nations have had a go at secular and separatist power grabs over the centuries, that fact remains that there is one overall driving force in the region.

I have friends living in Tehran.  Most of them are Muslim.   Most of them are Persian, too.  Persians are not Arabs, and they would be the first to point that out to you.  While religious ties seek to unite the region, ethnic ties seek the opposite.  One of the greatest battles that Middle Eastern countries have waged are battles with themselves.  We certainly see this with ISIS at present.  It does seem very confusing to outsiders, but it all make perfect sense to insiders.  Hopefully a little focus on the region will help it to make sense to us as well.


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