Obsession with the Middle East

Would it really be that bad if we left those countries alone to deal with their own terror problems? Can’t they fight their own terrorists for a change?

Uh… Were you under the impression that “those countries” are not already fighting “their own terrorists”?

Good Idea!
Be sure to say sorry first, for creating them, and then leave them alone.

That’d be fine, if we had “left them alone” to begin with.

“Gosh, that’s quite a blaze. The house is really burning quite fiercely now, don’t you think? Listen, I’m terribly sorry about the whole thing, but in my defense my Molotov-cocktail-juggling act is usually a great party piece and people seemed to think it was a good idea at first and, really, who knew rugs, curtains and furniture were so flammable? Anyhoo, good luck with the whole ‘raging conflagration’ thing and be sure to let us know when your next party is, won’t you? TTFN!”

Move the oil and everyone goes home.

Gas. in this case.
And it started when Syria wanted to move it.

We’re (“the West”) suffering from “learned helplessness”. Sometimes learned helplessness is illusory, but in this case there may be a point: we suspect that we are helpless at “fixing” the Middle East. If we do something, we screw things up worse. But if we do nothing, things get worse. Maybe we should just do nothing. At least that way we won’t waste money, lives and people’s mental and physical health trying to shove Sisyphus’s rock up a hill.

I don’t think the Middle East can solve its own problems. Some such as corrupt governments are at least theoretically solvable. However, that won’t happen without foreign intervention, and see learned helplessness above. Many of the countries have ethnic tensions that cannot be solved until they’re all repartitioned, but attempting to do that creates war, and almost every Middle Eastern country’s government is just strong enough to prevent this. (The West could, in theory, repartition the Middle East properly. Unfortunately this would result in the deaths of tens of thousands of Western soldiers and millions of Arabs. The cure isn’t necessarily better than the disease. See learned helplessness above.)

The Kurds are split up over four countries, Bahrain is a Shia country run by Sunnis, Iraq used to be that way too, Syria is a Sunni country run by Shia, ethnic groups are split between Afghanistan and Pakistan, ethnic groups are split between India and Pakistan (not the Middle East, but you get the point) and so on. Tensions range from demonstrations (Bahrain, for instance) to terrorism (numerous examples).

Violence in Baghdad dropped after the Sunni were “kicked” out of Shia areas, the Shia were “kicked” out of Sunni areas, and anyone who didn’t leave the “wrong” area got murdered. In effect, the murders stopped because there was no one left to murder. Maybe the murders would stop if Iraqis saw being Iraqi as more important than being Sunni, Shia or Kurd… but Iraq was a country artificially partitioned from other Arab countries by European pens less than a century ago, so why would Iraqis show loyalty to it?

That’s just talking about the inability of groups to work together. It’s not even discussing the treatment of women, the “resource curse”, anti-Semitism, settlements in Palestine, Middle Eastern paranoia about America, Israel, other countries, each other, and numerous other problems… The West can’t realistically solve these problems and neither can the Middle East. After we’ve all died of old age newspapers might be saying the exact same things about the Middle East they’re saying now.

What makes you think that anybody can solve the Mideast’s problems? They have been fighting for thousands of years, with no solution.

Winston Churchill once said (talking about WWI) that “…the worst mistake I made during the war was getting involved in Iraq.”

And absolutely nothing has changed since then.

Do you think the Iraqi police and armed forces have just been sitting on their hands for a decade?

Great powers have long sough control of the Middle East and North Africa due to its central location, trade routes, and natural resources. America and Russia’s interest in the region predate concerns over terrorism, so it’s doubtful they will be “left alone” anytime soon.

This was a common view in America some years ago, except in regards to Europe.


That was the attitude of the American government, circa September 10, 2001.

The trouble is that folks really, really love driving their cars around and not paying $30 a gallon for gas…

Fracking makes this irrelevant, as does Canadian oil. Remember that the fracking boom was part of the reason oil prices crashed. We can make our own oil now. We also have massive natural gas reserves in the USA. Natural gas can be turned into gasoline. There are also cars that run directly on natural gas. Or we could just use solar/wind/hydro and electric cars.

Europe also has been fighting for thousands of years, with no solution. For the past few decades, most of continental Europe has managed to remain in an inter-war lull (at least as far as fighting on their own continent is concerned), which we hope will persist as long as possible. But there is no known “solution” that ensures that wars will never happen again.

On a scale of millennia, the Middle East isn’t substantially more war-torn than Europe is. It’s just that over the past few decades, Europe (along with its North American daughter societies) has lucked into an equilibrium point of political stability/economic prosperity at home, partly by exporting some of its power jockeying to former colonies in, e.g., the Middle East.

Um…you realize that oil is global, and that just because we get most of our oil from Canada and Venezuela that doesn’t mean it would stay that way if all of the oil in the ME was out of play because we just let them deal with it…right? It would have a small change, you know?

Yes, of course I realize that. What does that have to do with my point that “fighting for thousands of years” is not a uniquely Middle Eastern phenomenon, and in fact is just as characteristic of Europe as of the Middle East?

In case it wasn’t entirely clear, what I was doing was rejecting the dismissive and reductionist (and not entirely un-racist) oversimplification that the current Middle East conflicts exist because those Middle Easterners are just so darn conflict-prone, and always have been, yanno?

It doesn’t matter whether Middle Eastern governments are pro-American or anti-American: they will all sell their oil on the international market for the most money they can get.

:smack: No, That was supposed to be quoting Boffking…I have no idea how your quote got in there. Probably a brainfart on my end. Sorry.

Well, assuming they could. If it all goes up in flames, regionally, then who is going to pump and sell the oil? Plus, even if it doesn’t all go up in flames it’s still going to have an impact on the global markets.

Basically, I don’t see how leaving them all to fight it out themselves is a good idea. Mostly, they don’t even think that…well, aside from the radical and crazy ones who just want the US and Europe out of the way so they can get on with taking over and going full Islamic fundamentalist in the region, not to mention killing off the other sides schismatic faction (Shia or Sunny) if possible.