Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Middle East Policies

Recently we were treated to one of the most idiotic speeches by President Bush that he has delivered in his presidency and that is going some. Once again he mounted his horse and promised to bring “democracy” to the Middle East as if these people were longing for a representative government and the freedoms enjoyed in the West. The fact that he actually delivered this speech rests entirely on his shoulders but ultimately it is the fault of the State Department. The State Department has been monopolized by the East Coast intelligentsia practically since its inception and in sprite of the highly vaunted quality of education delivered by the Ivy League their alumni have never been strong on history – especially history of the Middle East. It’s as if the Ottoman Empire never existed.

Virtually all of the current Islamic States were ruled by the Ottomans for 400 years. During this period there was no Renaissance, no Reformation, no Industrial Revolution, or steady improvement in medicine, hygiene, public health, or education. But the Ottomans maintained peace and order during this entire time because the Ottomans would not tolerate any challenge to their authority and the punishments they inflicted on any challenger were draconian. Then the Ottomans – thanks to the bumbling of Winston Churchill – sided with the Kaiser and their empire was dismantled by the French and British. It has never known a peaceful moment since then. The Western Democracies have never understood nor even attempted to understand the people or their motivations in the Middle East. Instead the drive has been to westernize them and to create freely elected democratic governments that were independent of the Mosque. This policy has consistently failed with the only exception being Turkey but that was reformed from within by Kemal Attaturk and was not accomplished by the Western Powers. This failed policy of westernization continues today as is evidenced by President Bush’s speech and the American Foreign Policy relative to Iraq.

The British and French and now the Americans arrogantly assume that because the Islamic States are consistently mired in poverty, ignorance, and squalor they are desperate to become westernized. Well when the Ottoman Empire was dismantled Iraq was a constitutional monarchy until 1958 when the Army overthrew the monarchy in a very bloody coup. Prior to this coup the “democratic” government conducted genocide against the Assyrians and the Jews. The Shiites were suppressed as well. The brutality of this regime rivaled that of Saddam Hussein and it was all done under a democratic government, but not one where all were created equal or given equal protection under the law. All of this is on the historical record – a record our State Department and all of those Alumni from all of those fancy colleges seem to have neglected to read. The liberal media as well as all of those well meaning politicians had assumed that the Iraqi’s were longing for a democratic government, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, an independent judiciary, and an elected parliament. What they neglected to consider was what happened when the British introduced those democratic institutions in 1920, which was exactly what happened after the Bush Administration re-introduced them in 2005. What happened then is what is happening now – civil war, massacres, and an unreliable military that merrily participates in the internecine warfare. This is the background that permeates the Middle East and it is against this background that President Bush calls for the installation of democratically elected western style governments. The fallacy of this policy is obvious or should be obvious and certainly the various Sheiks, Emirs, Monarchs, and Presidents for Life know that this is not in their best interest.

Governments throughout the Middle East are dictatorships, monarchies, or some similar absolutist government and all of them are driven by Islam no matter how secular they may appear. While Iran and Egypt are ancient countries the rest are artificial creations of the west. The separation of church and state so common in the west is unheard of in the world of Islam where governments are subservient to the religious leaders and no where is this more apparent than in Iran and Iraq today. The time has long past for America and the Western powers to cease their insistence that the Middle East adopt western values and conduct themselves and their affairs along western lines. There is no history of democratic governments or even processes in these countries and those governments that are stable are authoritarian.

This is not a call for America to establish a military government similar to what was done in Japan in 1945. It is too late for that but this constant drumbeat for the creation of freely elected governments must cease. The more America, the western media, and the liberal establishment press for this unrealistic objective the more idiotic we seem and the harder it is for our friends in the area – and there are some – to take us seriously. Our foreign policy needs to be revamped to accept the reality that many of these countries were better off under the absolute authority of the Ottomans. It should seem apparent to any educated westerner that the Islamic countries have no desire to become westernized or democracies. They were happy in the seventh century and they were happy under the Ottomans, but the west wanted their oil and in order to get it they felt it was necessary to modernize the Middle East. This modernization has been resisted by Islam for 500 years and is resisting now, unfortunately Pandora’s Box was opened with the fall of the Ottomans and now we are left with result and no solution in sight.

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