Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Unending Miscue: The Middle East and the West

  I'm not sure if it's a rumble, or simply a high pitched un-hearable sound. It's there though, and it must emanate from somewhere...

  In a socio-geographic kind of vicariance, this world is split along many line, and even more points. Like mountains rising to form unique barriers, so does circumstance. Driven by wants, needs, greed, or simply a lack of empathy for one another, humanity just can't seem to resist trying to change humanity. Philosophies, religions, politics and customs, drive our world crazy at times. People do horrible things to one another, and in a quest to show some are better, they do horrible things in reply.

  Nations are man-made; lines drawn in an ever changing map, shouting to all this is where you are, until you are not. One step this way or that, defines where you are, but not who you'll be. In increasing instances, a pattern to define what should and shouldn't be believed or allowed is pressed forward by the more dominant. It's a part of our world's history, and as each civilization rises and falls, all are marked forever for failing to acknowledge the rights of others to exist.

  The lines scratched on a map in 1916 may have been one of the worst things mankind has ever done to itself. Written in ink, in hues inspired by arrogance and greed, the Sykes-Picot Agreement divided the Ottoman Empire. Two men - one from France and the other from England - unknowingly set the stage for what would become known as the volatile Middle East of today. In a rush to capture post-World War I power and influence, portions of Europe and the Caucasus region were divided up as spoils. Lesser areas to the south - known for inhospitable deserts and new found oil beneath the endless sands - were given little consideration in terms of the people who called this area their home. No one knew, as the ink dried on this new map - which carved up what was once part of the Persian Empire - that the spark of hatred and war had its first flash, leading to a century of blood spilling on the sand.

  The politically drawn maps of this time were a disaster, and would directly impact the advent of World War II. War reparations crippled Germany, allowing a Austrian corporal with a funny mustache to rise to power, and set the world ablaze in the 1930s and 1940s. All the while, desert tribes screamed to be heard, only to be met by troops from empires destined to dissolve. It's tough not to wonder what the Middle east would've been like if oil had never found its way to its substrata. While it's true the areas inhabitants had a long history of battling one another - just as Native American had for thousands of years - the unwanted intercession of societies without frame, context or sentience in both cases, caused the near annihilation their cultures.

  The Middle East is a concurrent and unending calamity. Western societies made Kings, and even created new countries. Kuwait didn't exist before Sykes-Picot, and in what can be found as morbidly humorous, anyone can see by looking at a modern map how little thought went into its creation. Straight lines on a map are rare, but have a look at the lines drawn in 1916. In a complete disregard for the people in the region, Sykes-Picot announced to the world this is what would be. France and England propped up rulers, and sent troops when the people cried foul. Somewhere in this mess, a growing economic world power - The United States of America - decided to step into the fray. As the Cold War became more real, the U.S. decided oil resources in the region needed to be protected from the Soviet Union. France and England two-stepped their way out, handing off the Middle East to an unprepared America.

  We Americans were naive to think the Middle East was something easily handled. But the money being made - and industries which continued to flourish by an unending pipeline of oil - was just too much to pass up. Turning a blind eye to the people of the region, slowly but surely distinct groups began to form, with Islam as its load stone. Not unlike the Christian Inquisitions in history, the first Islamic Inquisition began to form. Orthodoxy became a central rallying point for cultures known in the past for their disparate natures. Clerical rule tracked with the Roman Catholic Inquisitional doctrines of the past. Made worse by a Western history of crusades in the region, and the hundreds of thousands killed, Orthodox clerics had a fertile ground to create what we have today.

  It's 2013, and the Western nations still haven't learned. So too, the people of the region are being blindly led down a path of violence and revenge for past ills. The simplest of minds can see this Middle East - the one of Western making - is a bottomless pit. After a decade of war in the region, the U.S. and United Nations are still making the same mistakes the British and French did almost a century ago. As all out war has died down, and troops begin to return home, Syria has stepped over a line with the use of chemical weapons. No one denies if found to be true - really true - that action of some kind must be taken to prevent the Syrian government from believing it's OK to use weapons of mass destruction. The problem here is in how the world's reaction should manifest itself.

  In the light of history, one glaring fact is irrefutably true. If the West kills someone in this region, it irrevocably continues the trend of violence and fuels radical Islamic extremists. They can point at our ships, missiles and troops, saying they will never leave. They can point at the innocent who die at the hands of "smart weapons," and say this will never end. Suicide bomber become manifest out of ignorance, easily swayed by the carnage wrought, and evidenced before them. Allowing an individual to make war as revenge for lost family members and friends is something Islamic extremist clerics covet and encourage. It's cheap war, and promises of martyrdom for killing the innocent cloud the minds of the desperate.

  For a chance at ending the cycle of carnage, Syria must be called to answer by their fellow Arab nations alone. They have the weapons procured over the decades to achieve justice for those killed by the Syrian government with chemical weapons. Yet, for some unknown reason, the Kings and countries created and encouraged from the time of Sikes-Picot want the Western nations to continue their headlong dash into the Middle East? This may be craven, but it's hard to discount the $$billions Western countries contribute to select Middle Eastern countries, many of whom rely on this foreign aid to fuel their economies. But they also need this aid to hold their countrymen at bey. Saudi Arabian's royal family is huge, and have lived the life of the rich while their regional fellows have existed in doubt and poverty. Israel came into existence and survives due to the largess of the U.S. and rightly so. The assorted Emirates - Westernized to the point they caused the Islamic Extremists' counter-life style choices to be attractive for those they wish to rule - rely on the threat of U.S. military might to defend their borders and leadership.

 The more than sad fact is, if Western nations leave the Middle East, it will almost guarantee a region civil war. While oil will have an important place in world economies for decades to come, the prospect of alternative energy research supplanting petroleum as a primary means of powering cars and industry looms on the horizon. If held to be true, the oil kingdoms are destined to lose their power on the world stage. If they are to survive, they must set forward their own ability to exist with reduced or removed foreign influence, aid, and protection.

  If there has ever been a better time for the League of Arab nations to establish themselves as capable of minding their own human rights, it's now. The U.S. or its allies intervening in Syria will add to the problems faced in the Middle East. Enforcing outside beliefs or philosophies - however right or intended - is just a further step down the road of refusing to learn and correct historical miscues. The idea a country as powerful as the U.S. could lose respect in the eyes of the world is close to laughable. While many countries hold America with scorn, - for whatever reason - but none can possibly doubt the will or means of the mightiest military in the history of the world. If anything, leaving some doubt in where and when the U.S. may strike, would increase second thoughts of a potential transgressor. Currently, every country in the region factors in a U.S. response, and banks on the time they'll need to move key assets away from areas the U.S. would deem acceptable targets. In a dance no country can maintain, Islamic Extremists bank on the U.S and their allies reaching a point of futility, and they will. If history has taught us anything, it's that Middle East peace can only be had if the people of the region truly want it, and have the open avenue to achieve it...