Obama in Cairo: Dictating Policy or Furthering Political Agendas

The distrust of the Palestinian nation has its most recent origins in a terrorist organization known as the Black September Movement. Their claims to fame, vengeance, what have you, were the murder of the Prime Minister of Jordan, and 11 Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympic games in Munich. The push by the Obama administration for peace is a misguided one, at best, and disregards many factors that have and probably will exist for many centuries to come between the Israeli and Palestinian people. This is not a small conflict between two countries that developed overnight or within the time frame of the Obama administration; this war has existed for many decades and throughout several U S presidential administrations.

Most of Obama’s speech in Cairo was simply words meant to placate the Muslim nations, and nothing more. His promises will be empty ones, no matter how well meant, because the Muslim and Jewish people rarely use words, more often preferring violence as an end to any discussion on peace. That said, the persecution of any nation due to religious belief or intolerance will always be met with violence. Charles Krauthammer—Washington Post columnist—eloquently points out the fallacies in the present and past administrations while attempting a peaceful resolution between Palestine and Israel. Basically, the sentiments and coordinated efforts laid out in the present resolution are just a re-wording of other administrative strategies that have failed miserably in the past.

Obama’s speech included a passage referencing our—the United States—dictation (another reference to Bush policy bashing) of policy and the reversal of that strategy, and yet again, I read on yahoo news the resolution to North Korean nuclear aggression. There is no doubt that Kim Jong-Il intends to make and sell nuclear warheads; however, Obama says that we will not dictate policy to other countries while we will decide who has nuclear weapons and whom will not. We have begun (wars) struggles with the Taliban in two countries since the inauguration of this man, and we have done so through our infinite knowledge of those that should be in power. When so many contradictions exist, perhaps it is time for this administration to clarify why it feels that dictating policy to one nation while destroying policy with another nation is the best tactical answer to world problems.

Posted by D. Ffallis at June 5, 2009 12:34 PM
Comments
Comment #282519

D. Ffallis,

“The push by the Obama administration for peace is a misguided one, at best, and disregards many factors that have and probably will exist for many centuries to come between the Israeli and Palestinian people.”

A wise man one said, “when all other means of communication fail, try words”.

In a conflict driven by revenge, including your definition of, but not the history of, the Black September Movement the only thing worse than the violence is not trying to stop it.

There are plenty of platitudes linked to revenge such as “an eye for an eye”.
Decimus Junius Juvenal a roman poet of the 1st and 2nd century AD wrote “Semper et infirmi est animi exiguique voluptas Ultio”, or “Revenge is always the weak pleasure of a little and narrow mind”.

If mankind is to survive we need to spend more time talking and less time seeking revenge.

After an administration that will be forever linked to nation building and it’s inability to communicate, it’s refreshing to have a leader that is more interested in using words than bombs to gain world peace.

“We have begun (wars) struggles with the Taliban in two countries since the inauguration of this man…”

Really?
Obama inherited the mess in Afghanistan, and it’s byproduct in Pakistan. Perhaps if Bush had kept his eye on the ball instead of opening up a needless second front in Iraq the issue would have already been settled there.

Perhaps it will be generations before the people of the Middle east, including the Palestinians and the Israelis, get their heads out of their butts.

But not talking is even worse.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 6, 2009 12:59 PM
Comment #282525

In 1945-6 many millions of Poles were forced from homes their ancestors had occupied since the middle ages. The same thing happened to millions of German, millions of Ukrainians, Romanians, Hugarians … the list goes on. A few decades later, they were all integrated into “homeland” they had never seen. No “Polish liberation army” kills civilians in Vilnus. German suicide bombers don’t destroy buses full of school children in Warsaw.

In 1948 a few hundred thousand Palestinians were driven out of their land. The youngest of them is now over sixty years old, but they and their children are still called refugees and many still live in squalid camps or settlement that may as well be camps.

Although the surrounding Arab countries claim to love them and support them, they are not allowed to settle permanently among their brothers and sisters. Oil rich Arab states spend billions to keep Palestinians in constant state of squalor and anger.

Since 1948, Arab countries have expelled hundreds of thousands of Jews. In many cases, these Jewish communities were the oldest in the countries. There were Jews in what is now Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Sudan etc long before Islam and before Arabs at all in most cases. Christian communities also dwindled under the threats of violence.

I think we do need to address the situation as we face it today. But let’s not get too worked up by Arab propaganda. The Palestinian problem is an artificial creation. If Arab countries had been as generous to their own ethnic “brothers” as Germans, Poles, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Hungarians, Romanians, Greeks … had been to theirs, this whole problem would be as well known as the fall of Danzig or the ethnic cleansing of lost parts of Poland, Romanian, Hungary… you get the picture. All these things involved many more people at the time and were often very much more deadly and cruel.

AND Israel has absorbed more Jews expelled from Muslim lands than it Palestinians it expelled AND Muslims in Israel enjoy more civil rights there than they do in any Arab land.

Posted by: Christine at June 6, 2009 2:41 PM
Comment #282526

I didn’t make it clear.

Christian communities in the Muslim world also predate Islam. They often represent the original people of those place (i.e. before the Muslim conquest and occupation). Muslim supremicists have been making life dangerous and unpleasant for them.

Islam was a religion of tolerance, which is how those communities survived so long. This changed during the 20th Century when the spirit on intolerance took over. Let’s hope they can recapture some of the earlier ideals, but I fear there will be no Christian or Jewish communities left by the time this happens. it is a serious cultural loss. Sort of like the destruction of the Buddas by the Taliban.

Posted by: Christine at June 6, 2009 2:58 PM
Comment #282528

Bush’s basic plan was to gain revenge for the country when Saddam and the Al’queda.(sorry if the spelling incorrect) attacked. now i agree the basic principal of revenge is a weak idea… but talking is weaker… it shows the enemy that we would rather “have tea and crumpets and just chat out our differences and see if we can compromise…never mind that hundreds of thousands of families were effected i am sure they would understand our ‘talking to the people involved’ would comfort their loss. the main point is the fact that once we completed the operation “shock and awe” we should have then discussed our feelings and differences not continue to control their country…especially since we have a hard enough time controling our own homestead.

Posted by: cowboyellison at June 6, 2009 3:22 PM
Comment #282532

cowboy,

“now i agree the basic principal of revenge is a weak idea… but talking is weaker”

Baloney.
If you don’t take the time to talk, you surely won’t take the time to listen, and without listening you just as surely, will learn nothing.

“it shows the enemy that we would rather “have tea and crumpets and just chat out our differences and see if we can compromise”
“Bush’s basic plan was to gain revenge for the country when Saddam and the Al’queda.(sorry if the spelling incorrect) attacked.”

I hope these statements aren’t the result of the American education system.

Christine,

“Christian communities in the Muslim world also predate Islam.”

Yes Islam is a relatively young religion, however, the cultures that the Muslim world rose from predate Christianity by thousands of years.
Just because there has always been strife in the Middle East, does there always need to be strife in the Middle East?
America seems to have taken the lead in negotiating a settlement for the last few decades, but there are those on both sides of the line that have done everything in their power to make sure no peace exists.

It is now in America’s best interest to mediate a peaceful solution in the Middle East.

Guns and bombs have done the talking long enough.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 6, 2009 6:13 PM
Comment #282539

Rocky

Islam and the Arab conquests largely obliterated the local culures. Northern Africa was a lot like Italy in culure and language before the conquest. What is now Turkey was Greek speaking and Christian, as was much of the Med coast in general.

Islam rose from Arab culture. It predates Christianity, but that doesn’t mean much. The culures of the ancient world that became Christian also predate Christianity.

There is a distressing Islamic supremacist streak in modern Islam that sometimes downplays the remarkable cultures of the ancient world that were lost with the Arab conquests.

Yes, these are just old historical fact, but they still inform what is happening today.

It is indeed in our best interests to work toward peace. How many presidents have tried to broker this? It goes back at least to Eisenhower and probably to Truman. The only reason it doesn’t go back farther is because their was no Israel before and reestablishing that condition remains the goal of many in the Arab world.

Much of the reason we don’t have peace yet is the intrangigence of Muslim countries. They will not allow or make it difficult Palestinians to settle, even though Palestinians are among the most educated people in the Arab world. They want to do nothing to mitigate the problem. Hamas still has its goal the obliteration of Israel and the history of the region and earlier conquests shows how that will work. It limits the choices for talk.

I am afraid that the conflict is NOT the result of misunderstanding.

There is a quote from King Francis of France who was fighting with Charles V. Somebody asked if there wasn’t something they both wanted. He answered, yes - that they both wanted to control northern Italy and that is why they were fighting. Maybe we have a similar situation here. Some wars only end when somebody wins.

Posted by: Christine at June 6, 2009 7:53 PM
Comment #282544

Christine;

“Islam and the Arab conquests largely obliterated the local culures.”

I disagree. The Ottomans allowed other cultures to remain and even allowed the “conquered” to continue to practice their religions as long as it wasn’t practiced in public. They appreciated art, and technology.

The Palestinians aren’t wanted by anybody. The Black September Movement was in retaliation for their ejection from Jordan in 1971.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 6, 2009 9:57 PM
Comment #282546

So, it benefits Israel to be in a perpetual pressure cooker situation, where it and the Palestinians cruelly provoke each other, and each side responds by becoming ever more radicalized.

And it really benefits us to be associated with that, no honest broker between the sides, right?

Since Bush got into office, since the people who believed backing Israel 100% no matter what it did, things have gotten worse in Israel, not better.

I for one am glad that adults are in charge that know its better to settle something down most of the time than stir it up. I want the thugs who lead people astray in the Middle East to once more have to spin-doctor their way to an explanation of why Arabs and Muslims should hate America, rather than have some fodder for that belief to show them, courtesy of terrible policy and absent diplomacy.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 6, 2009 11:04 PM
Comment #282553

Richard Luger, the distinguished, senior Republican on the Forign Relations Committee, had praise for the BHO speech. Yes ,it was just words. That is what speeches are. There were some concrete announcements, like the withdrawel of American troops from Iraq. Some object to its somtimes apoligetic tone. An honest look at US involvement in the Middle East should be explanation enough for an apology. Just to mention only two events we should be sorry for out of many, there was the US led installation of the Shah in Iran,replacing a democratically elected government with a brutal dictator. There was also the arming of both sides in the Iran-Iraq War, including the provision of WMDs to Iraq. To give an idea of the magnitude, Iran lost nearly fifty thousand troops in ONE battle!
Krauthammer is a brilliant, inciteful commentator. He is also a Zionist and will be a part the movement to prevent the administration from putting enough pressure in the Israelis to further peace in the Middle East. Our close allie is mis-behaving. A powerful segment continues to push a 2000 year old land claim. That is what the settlements are all about. If it was not for racsist and exclusionary policies those settlements would be called housing developements and there would be no controversy.Would the US accept,lets say Mexico, building cities in the Southwest that only allow Mexican citizens. I think not.
The violence in the region is not one sided and we should no longer accept excuses from Israel for their part. The horrible violence in return still gives Israel the moral high ground. In a profound historical error the Arabs shunned the non-violent tactics that would have given them success. A shame.

Posted by: bills at June 6, 2009 11:35 PM
Comment #282562

Rocky

The area that is now Turkey was occupied by Greek speakers and had a Roman-Hellenic culture for more than 2000 years. Within a century after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, it was gone. They enslaved the populations. You think it is good that they tolerated conquered people as long as they practiced in private. In Israel, Muslims can vote and practice openly.

Those cultures were indeed obliterated. All that is left of them is ruins.

You are right that the Palestinians are not wanted anywhere. Their Arab brothers, who say they want to kill for them won’t even let them live next door.

I do not disagree with you that it is a big problem that should be addressed. But I think we have to recognize that bigotry on the Arab side is a big hurdle to jump.

Posted by: Christine at June 7, 2009 12:02 AM
Comment #282563

BillS

You are very right about the Arab violence. President Obama pointed that out to them in one of the better parts of his speech.

Had they not turned to terrorism, they would have had the possibility to integrate into society and be prosperous. Of course, if they had been so reasonable the situation would be more akin to Europe, where ancient hatreds now are mainly expressed on football fields.

There are lots of bad actors in the region, but let’s be 100% clear. If you believe Israelis have a right to live in the region under their own government, organizations like Hamas are in violent disagreement with you.

Posted by: Christine at June 7, 2009 12:08 AM
Comment #282566

“now i agree the basic principal of revenge is a weak idea… but talking is weaker… it shows the enemy that we would rather “have tea and crumpets and just chat out our differences and see if we can compromise…”

Cowboy one would have to assume that all Muslims in all countries are our enemy for the actions of a few fundamentalist Muslims, for this comment to make sense. I didn’t hear BHO say he wanted to talk to Bin Laden. I did hear him reach out to moderate Muslims through out the world. After the embarrassing “revenge” we extracted in the name of democracy in Iraq, which arguably created more terrorist ready to fight the great Satan than Bin Laden himself, to have an American president that actually has the brainpower to realize we need to do more to bring the moderates to our side is indeed a step in the right direction IMHO.

Posted by: j2t2 at June 7, 2009 12:23 AM
Comment #282567

Christine,

“You think it is good that they tolerated conquered people as long as they practiced in private. In Israel, Muslims can vote and practice openly.”

I am not looking at the Ottomans of the 13th - 17th century with 2009 eyes, and I would certainly think it more enlightened than the “no one expects the Spanish Inquisition” Christians of the same time period.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 7, 2009 12:28 AM
Comment #282575

Christine

“The area that is now Turkey was occupied by Greek speakers and had a Roman-Hellenic culture for more than 2000 years. Within a century after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, it was gone.”

Actually, no. Hundreds of thousands of greek speakers remained until the end of World War One and the massive Greek-Turkish population exchange. Modern day Lebanon was created with a Christian majority population. In 1948, about 20% of Palestinians were Christians, and several towns like Bethlehem and Nazareth retained large Christian majorities. In Palestine massive numbers of Christians have fled. Bethlehem is now a majority Muslim town-and a large majority blames the Israeli occupation, not Islamic militancy, for the exodus.

You also forget that after Christianity’s acceptance by the Roman Empire and subsequent empires it too often spread at the point of a sword and obliterated local cultures. Neither Christianity nor Islam has been perfect. I do not believe this indicates anything about the truth of those religions’ teachings, only that their followers and interpreters sometimes make royal messes of things.

You also ignore that Israel as a nation was created largely at gunpoint. The expulsion of Palestinians from their homes by Irgun and the Haganah is quite well documented. Millions of people who have land claims in Palestine going back centuries have no citizenship or rights whatsoever. Meanwhile Israeli immigration law says that any Jew, even one whose family has not lived in Palestine for millenia, becomes a citizen as soon as the step into the country. Illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank take 70% of the water resources there, despite being a small minority of the population. Those settlements also cluster around Jerusalem in a barely masked attempt to create “facts on the ground” essentially unilaterally dictating what the Palestinian state will look like. Israel also bans construction on large portions of the West Bank, and those where construction is allowed are already largely built up. Israel routinely obstructs transportation in the West Bank, and Bethlehem is now almost entirely surrounded by Israel’s “security fence” much of which runs through illegally seized Palestinian land. Access to both Christian and Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem is routinely cut off for those living in the West Bank.

You blame neighboring Arab nations for not welcoming Palestinian refugees. You ignore that Palestinians do not want to go to those countries. They want to go home.

Posted by: Calvin at June 7, 2009 3:08 AM
Comment #282582

Jewish settlements and settlers are at the core of the problem today.

www.btselem.org documents a lot of day of day events that happen on the Palestinian side, that we in the U.S. see almost none of.

The argument that other Arabs should take in Palestinians is thick-headed, Israel basically did to the Palestinians what WE did to the Native Americans. Except that they live in a much smaller area, and have a ‘Wounded Knee’ every week.

By the way Christine, you should go to Istanbul, there’s a Orthodox Christian church that dates back to Roman times that people have used constantly to worship openly. Armenians in Istanbul today go to churches and mass weekly with minarets calling prayer beside them.


Posted by: Jon at June 7, 2009 10:41 AM
Comment #282587

Christine:

I’m confused.

You say,

“I think we do need to address the situation as we face it today”

You then go on a long diatribe in several posts setting us “straight” about the long and violent history of the region.

Today, Palestine is an occupied land dominated by Israel’s demeaning and oppressive government, and conversely Palestine is filled with raging terrorism. Settlements continue to eat up prime Palestinian land creating the Palestinian archipelago that is unsustainable as a country, and Palestinians continue to lob bombs.

Where do you deal with today?

Posted by: gergle at June 7, 2009 12:45 PM
Comment #282588

Calvin
I don’t have a dog in the fight between Christianity and Islam as existed through centuries.

For many years, Americans accepted the Christian narrative of the struggle. It was biased. But in the last couple of decades we have gone way over to the other side. Islam is just the latest in a long line of invaders in the Middle East. So far, they have been the most successful. They effectively wiped out and replaced the previous cultures. But they are not native. Traditional Christian and Jewish communities in the Middle East predate Islam. It bothers me that we let Arab nations leave the impression that when they mistreat Christian or Jewish minorities that it is somehow their right. Indeed it is their right as sovereign nations, but it is not their right in terms of justice.

We have to demand more tolerance FROM Islam. You can buy a Koran in bookshops outside the Vatican. You cannot even bring a Bible into Mecca. In fact, you cannot even enter Mecca unless you are certified as Muslim. At times in the past, Islam was more tolerant than Christianity, but certainly not anymore.

About the Palestinians, I understand your point. But just think about it. Think of the tens of millions of Europeans who had to leave their ancestral homes at about the same time as the Palestinians. If they behaved like the Arabs, Europe would be nothing but a smoking pit of death and hatred. Sometimes you have to mitigate. You mention the Turks and the Greeks. Greeks had been in those homelands for many thousands of years. The Greek nationality actually formed on the shores of the Aegean. It didn’t come from anyplace else. In comparison, Palestinians were recent immigrants. Should these Greeks demand to go home to a place they have never been?

Jon

There are more recent examples. Israel did to the Palestinians what the Russians did to the Poles, the Turks did to the Greeks, the Poles did to the Germans, the Romanians did to the Hungarians, the Albanians did to the Serbs and what the Serbs did to the Albanians. And the Isrealis did to the Palestinians what Arab countries all over the Middle East are doing to their native Christians and Jewish populations.

Besides, your alternative is what? Hamas would just wipe out Israel. I don’t think the Jews could chance living under Arab domination.

Re Istanbul, what happened to and in Hagia Sophia the day the Turks took the city? And wasn’t there a lot of impaling going on? And all that great art and mosaics. The Turks were tolerant for people of the time. They had little choice, since the Christian population was large and had all the skills needed to run the place. The Turks were nomads from Central Asia. They had not developed the skills needed to run an empire’s economy. It was a distinctive second class status. If you have been to Istanbul, perhaps you have studied the history. I listened to a guy tell me what a privilege it was to be a eunuch. He was right. In that society, it improved your life chances. What kind of society is that? Turkish armies raided Christian towns and enslaved children to be made into soldiers. Again, our guide explained that this was a good thing. Again, I ask what kind of society are you running when having your kids taken and enslaved as soldiers is something that improves your life chances?

Islam treated Christians a lot like the blacks were treated in South Africa. They were tolerated as long as they kept their mouths shut and knew their place. In conflict between Islam and Christianity, it was clear which would come out on top.

Yes, all human societies were intolerant and Islam was better than most until around 400 years ago. At that time, Western societies stared to develop faster, both technologically and in terms of human rights. We should respect Islamic culture, but recognize the current constraints.

Posted by: Christine at June 7, 2009 12:59 PM
Comment #282589

Gergle

I am not sure there is a solution until somebody wins. In the long run, demographics favor the Arabs. If I was an Israeli, I would hope that the Arab world develops fast enough to make that prospect less frightening.

I am also pointing out that the problem is maintained not by the local activities of Israel or even the Palestinians, but rather by rich Arabs who want to keep the issue hot rather than find a solution that works. W/o that rich source of funding, the Palestinians could not have been maintained in that poverty for so many years.

The point of leverage is probably in Gulf States or Saudi or even the EU. If we could redirect funding for actual development and some resettlement, everybody would be better off.

The Palestinian issue is used by local despots to distract from their own corruption and ineptitude. If they can direct energy and emotion into hatred for Israel, they don’t have to fix problems at home. It is amazing to me that it was worked for sixty years. I guess you can fool most of the people all of the time.

Posted by: Christine at June 7, 2009 1:32 PM
Comment #282590

Christine,

“Yes, all human societies were intolerant and Islam was better than most until around 400 years ago. At that time, Western societies stared to develop faster, both technologically and in terms of human rights. We should respect Islamic culture, but recognize the current constraints.”

So what changed?

It couldn’t be that 400 years ago the “West” (England, France, etc) began a massive campaign of colonization and exploitation and conversion to Christianity of the region, could it?
It couldn’t be that these colonizers treated these people like heathens to be ground underfoot, could it?
It couldn’t be that in the last century the west put in place, and supported the most vile dictators who continued the exploitation of their populations while we searched for oil, and lined their pockets with money and weapons, could it?

For all of our of our claims of civilization we have done some pretty uncivilized things in the name of progress and technology.

Your generalization about Islam being a wholly intolerant religion is incredibly myopic.
True, some sects of Islam are intolerant, but not all. Some Christian sects are also intolerant, but not all.

“Islam is just the latest in a long line of invaders in the Middle East.”

Sorry, again, in that 400 years you speak of, the west has been.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 7, 2009 1:42 PM
Comment #282591

“”The Fall of the Ottoman Empire can be attributed to the failure of its economic structure; the size of the Empire created difficulties in economically integrating its diverse regions[citation needed]. Also, the Empire’s communication technology was not developed enough to reach all territories. In many ways, the circumstances surrounding the Ottoman Empire’s fall closely paralleled those surrounding the Decline of the Roman Empire, particularly in terms of the ongoing tensions between the Empire’s different ethnic groups, and the various governments’ inability to deal with these tensions. In the case of the Ottomans, the introduction of increased cultural rights, civil liberties and a parliamentary system during the Tanzimat proved too late to reverse the nationalistic and secessionist trends that had already been set in motion since the early 19th century.”” They had been in decline for many years WW1 brought the crushing blow and they had no Spice or OIL back then.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 7, 2009 2:20 PM
Comment #282592

No, Rocky, it could not be colonialism. It doesn’t fit the time line. Effect cannot precede cause.

Colonialism was the consequence of ths shift in power and development. Until that time, western societies were the victims of Islamic colonialism. Over the preceeding centuries, Islamic armies had conquered what is now Turkey and had extended their conquests as far a present day Poland and Austria.

The shift came around 1600. To explain it we should look for development within the Islamic and Christian worlds. Colonialism of the Islamic variety, might explain why the Balkans were pushed back, but it doesn’t explain what went wrong in the Islamic world.

Re tolerance - I did not say Islam was totally intolerant, but in comparison. Just ask yourself if you would be safer carrying a Koran in Rome or carrying a Bible in Mecca.

What I said was that until around 1600, Islam was generally more tolerant and in many ways more advanced than the west. Since that time, it made progress, but the West made a lot faster progress, so that now the imbalance is distinctly in the other way. We need to recognize that reality.

Posted by: Christine at June 7, 2009 2:24 PM
Comment #282593

Rodney,

“they had no Spice or OIL back then”

They had the oil, and had been using it for millenia. What they didn’t have is the need to extract it on the grand scale we see today.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum#History

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 7, 2009 2:29 PM
Comment #282594

Christine,

“Colonialism of the Islamic variety, might explain why the Balkans were pushed back, but it doesn’t explain what went wrong in the Islamic world.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Empire#Revolts_and_revival_.281566.E2.80.931683.29

“European states initiated efforts at this time to curb Ottoman control of overland trade routes. Western European states began to circumvent the Ottoman trade monopoly by establishing their own naval routes to Asia. Economically, the huge influx of Spanish silver from the New World caused a sharp devaluation of the Ottoman currency and rampant inflation. This had serious negative consequences at all levels of Ottoman society.”

If this wasn’t the beginning of colonialism I don’t know what is.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 7, 2009 2:36 PM
Comment #282595

Christine,

As far as the total exploitation of the Middle East by the British and French it began en masse in 1918.
My mistake.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 7, 2009 2:41 PM
Comment #282598

Rocky

Islamic states around 1500 are as powerful or more powerful than European ones. They are conquering about 1/3 of Europe and making an Islamic homeland out of what is now Turkey, what had been a center of Western culture.

Yes, European states were trying to get around this, but they didn’t have the power to impose their will on the Islamic world. If Islamic states had maintained their strength, Europe could not have been a threat. It is like blaming Brazil for a decline in American power because they compete with us.

Something went seriously wrong with the Islamic world 400 years ago. The subsequent weakness enabled what you call colonialism. Maybe it was just a tide of history, as Islam had expanded and colonized Western cultures for the 1000 years before that.

As for the Spanish silver - that affected all of the region. The Spanish suffered; the Dutch and others gained because they were able to develop.

It was not only Islam that messed up. Obviously the Spanish also feel behind. So we had the greatest empires in those days Spain & the Ottoman Empire. What did they do that allowed others to catch up and pass them? How did they lose these big advatages? You cannot blame the people they had been oppressing and defeating for passing them by.

Posted by: Christine at June 7, 2009 3:04 PM
Comment #282599

Rocky

About oil - a resource is only valuable when you have the technology, social system etc to use it. The oil was under the sand in Arabia, but it wasn’t doing anybody any good. It was not until Westerners discovered it and got it out that it became a resource.

There are not many “rules” in history, but these seems to apply. If you let somebody else do your thinking and your work for you, sooner or later they will be your masters. This was certainly the case in the Arab world 100 years ago and it really still is.

This rule of history is a theat to us in America too. It is a threat to anybody on top. But we still innovate and work hard. It seems you have traveled a lot. Maybe you have noticed that if you go to Kuwait, Saudi or any place like that, the only people working hard are non-citizens. Do you think they will keep their wealth with habits like that?

IMO - we will soon see a new age of colonialism in the Middle East, but this time it will be the Indians and Chinese invovled. Unless the Arabs wise up the last 400 years will just be a prologue.

Posted by: Christine at June 7, 2009 3:16 PM
Comment #282600

Rodney,

“they had no Spice or OIL back then”

“They had the oil, and had been using it for millenia. What they didn’t have is the need to extract it on the grand scale we see today.” Roc we didn’t need it back then we had Plenty the empires of England and Germany did though and others my point was After WW1 the Arab countries took over from the Ottomans England made it so, Oil brings vast wealth and sway for ALL that have it.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 7, 2009 3:23 PM
Comment #282602

Christine,

“The oil was under the sand in Arabia, but it wasn’t doing anybody any good. It was not until Westerners discovered it and got it out that it became a resource.”

Petroleum has been used in the Middle East for at least 4,000 years.

Read the link I provided in comment #282593.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 7, 2009 3:25 PM
Comment #282603

Rocky

Lots of things have been used. There was no real market for it until the 19th Century. Beyond that, the oil contained in the deep wells in Arabia was undiscovered. Local technology would not have been able to even find it, much less get it out.

I think you and I are operating from different premises, but I think we can understand each other.

Your premise seems to be that raw resources are out there waiting to be taken. I agree with that, but I add the condition that they BECOME resources only when technology is developed to get it and systems develop to use it.

The differences in what people want and what they can use is the whole basis of exchange AND often what we would call injustice. If you offer to buy from me something I consider useless or even a nuisance, how much should you offer in compensation and if we both think we are getting a good deal, who is cheating whom.

Of course, in any meeting of cultures, the less advanced one always gets the worst of it, even when everybody starts off with good intentions. That is why it is inumbent upon them to adapt quickly. The fast adapters become powerful enough to look after their own interests and pretty soon start looking after others.Examples are Japanese, Romans and Brits and even to a great extent the U.S. We remember their power, but forget how close they came to being obliterated by others before they adapted. I can list some non-adapters. The most prominent are the Imperial Chinese. They had everything going for them in 1750, but a hundred years later they were being pushed around by European upstarts. If you want a comparison,it would be like Argentina sending gunboats up the Mississippi and getting away with it.

The Arabs were quick adapters for centuries, but not lately, not for centuries. The great opportunity of windfall wealth from oil has produced mostly rent seeking luxury for the well-established.

This outcome is unfortunate. We are complicit in this, but we are not the cause. Attempts to “democratize” the region have not worked out. W/o a free market democracy taking hold, the place is doomed.

I am not optimistic about it. My guess is that there will be some glimers of success and localized progress, but in the long run the region will remain a producer of resources for the use of others, if not us, the Indians and/or the Chinese. At that point,it will become their problem.

Posted by: Christine at June 7, 2009 5:41 PM
Comment #282611

Christine,

Sorry I was on the road this afternoon.

“Your premise seems to be that raw resources are out there waiting to be taken. I agree with that, but I add the condition that they BECOME resources only when technology is developed to get it and systems develop to use it.”

My point is that there always were the raw resources there and they always have been used within the technological ability of the time.

Who knew that petroleum would be the one resource that the whole world would base their economies around, and that we would run through a great majority of it in less than 200 years.
Apparently those in the past felt that this was a limitless source of power. I am quite sure that there still people on this planet that feel same way.
IMHO this was a vast mistake, but humans in their half vast wisdom are unable to see the big picture.

I came of age in the early ’70s just after men walked on the moon for the first time, and seeing the pictures of the earth against the vastness of space made me realize that this planet is truly an island, and a small island at that.
I have also realized that there is not one resource on this island/planet that is limitless, and we need to learn to share.

America has done some wonderful things. We have saved Muslim lives in many places where they were persecuted. Unfortunately we have also screwed the pooch more than once, and it is no wonder that the average Iraqi, when we invaded, looked at us with suspicion.
Democracy will spread where it will spread, and though America can help that spread, we cannot push it, nor can we force it. As I wrote when everyone was breathless during the first Iraqi elections Democracy comes from within, not without. Democracy requires that you must want it as much as life itself.
There is no possible way that we will find and put to death all that are against us.
The one thing that is glaringly obvious after the last 7 years of fighting the “war on terror” is that we cannot go it alone. We have neither the resources, nor the support of the world we once had.

So what do we do?

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 7, 2009 8:59 PM
Comment #282612

Rocky

We agree on resources. Personally, I think that oil is God’s joke. Almost all the world’s exportable oil is located in unstable places controlled by tyrants. This unearned wealth gives power to those who don’t use it well.

I do not envy President Obama. I don’t know what we do. I don’t expect lasting peace between Israel and the Arabs any time soon.

I worry about the Muslim world’s one-way tolerance. We welcome Muslim practice in the West, while Muslims wipe out Christianity and Jewish presence in their own countries. When a bookshop selling Bibles opens in a Mecca suburb, will be content that religious tolerance has triumphed. But I worry even more about secular tolerance.

I am a secularist. God may be an inspiration, but I believe our government is and should be the work of people. There is nothing divine in government. That is why we can change it. Muslim practice does not recognize the separation of church and state. I think that has to change, as it changed in the West centuries ago.

What I think we should do is limit our exposure to the problems of the Middle East. That means using less oil. I think we should tax carbon and maybe even tax imported oil. W/o the power of oil, nobody would much care what happened in Arabia deserts. It would just be exotic, intolerant and distant, as it was before oil.

BTW - I have one point of optimism. I think we have held back terror. We can never win a final victory, but things look a lot better now than they did on Sept 12, 2001. I think we are safer now … until the next time.

Posted by: Christine at June 7, 2009 9:24 PM
Comment #282618

Christine,

“Muslim practice does not recognize the separation of church and state.”


While that may be technically correct, that is not the whole picture.
Indonesia has a population that is over 80% Muslim, yet there is freedom of religion there, and the government recognizes 5 other major religions.
Turkey, Kosovo, and others are secular Muslim countries.
It doesn’t truly matter though that Muslim countries recognize a separation between church and state.
Hell, we barely recognize it here in America.

We need to get past the cultural differences if we are to progress as a civilization.
We need to understand that not every country is America.
We need to understand that some other countries may not want our way of life.
We need to recognize that, in the scheme of things it doesn’t matter that it is illegal to own a Bible in Mecca.

If we are not talking we will never get past the differences, and we might as well just supply everybody with a nuclear device and say have at it.
Because in the long run if we cannot get it together, it won’t matter anyway.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 7, 2009 10:12 PM
Comment #282620

I agree, Rocky.

But the trend seems to be the other way in many cases. Some of the most intolerant forms of Islam are speading.

You mention Turkey and Indonesia. Turkey was more secular a couple decades ago than it is today and Madrassas are opening in Indonesia that teach the more radical Islam ideas.

I don’t really care about a Bible in Mecca except what banning it indicates about tolerance. I am also disturbed by Islamic encroachment on freedoms in non-Islamic countries. When a small paper in Denmark publishes some cartoons and people are killed in the ensuing riots, something is wrong. Some EU countries already have rules making it a hate crime to say bad things about Islam.

Think of what that means. This blog is full of negatives about Christianity. It is a right they should have. But try making such comments about Islam. Or just think if Christianity demanded such “tolerance.”

Nothing should be above criticism. That is our right of free speech.

Turn around is the measure of fairness. When we can criticize Islam the way we criticize Christianity, I will be content that we have all reached tolerance.

Posted by: Christine at June 7, 2009 11:03 PM
Comment #282627

Christine
What I had in mind was if they had adopted non-violent passive resistance in response to the occupation not merging into society but employing general strikes, sit ins, marches etc. It worked to free India. It worked for Blacks in the US. Israel always gains the moral high ground with the US citizenry and because of that they always get support even when they are out of line. A lot of Palastinians would no doubt get hurt and arrested. They do anyway and the sight of Israeli troops beating passive protesters would change the whole dynamic. Israel would have to listen on settlements and even be willing to allow Jerusalem to become an international city like it should be.

Posted by: bills at June 8, 2009 6:24 AM
Comment #282639

Christine,

“Some of the most intolerant forms of Islam are speading.”

It seems like only yesterday that we were only worried about the spread of communism.
Could it be that Islam resonates more with these people than what we’re trying to sell them?
The real problem here is that we can’t outspend Islam in order to defeat it, and they probably couldn’t care less about SDI.

You seem to have really only one theme that you repeat over and over in what you have written here, and that is tolerance.
Seems to me that tolerance works both ways, and intolerance or not we are going to have to deal with these guys one way or the other.
Now I suppose we could go on as we have, but it is well known that you can’t fight an ideology with bullets unless you are prepared to annihilate every follower of that ideology.

So, the bottom line here is that we can continue to spend our manpower and our resources to try and kill every follower of Islam, or we can talk.
While talking might not be the macho thing to do, and might be perceived as weak, it is the smart thing to do and will have better results in the long run.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 8, 2009 11:56 AM
Comment #282652

rocky

“While talking might not be the macho thing to do, and might be perceived as weak, it is the smart thing to do and will have better results in the long run.”

how again is it that showing weakness to an enemy whos one asparation in life is to wipe us off the face of the earth, is a better option?

Posted by: dbs at June 8, 2009 7:21 PM
Comment #282655

dbs,

“how again is it that showing weakness to an enemy whos one asparation in life is to wipe us off the face of the earth, is a better option?”

How do you expect to stop an ideology with bullets?
I am sure you feel that we have the resources to kill every single Muslim.
Seriously.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 8, 2009 8:47 PM
Comment #282656

rocky

why do we need to kill them all to keep them at bay? did saddam need to kill them all?
seriuosly?

how does talking to someone who is not interested in compromise accomplish any thing?

Posted by: dbs at June 8, 2009 8:55 PM
Comment #282665

Rocky

I didn’t advocate killing anybody. But to take off on Bills point above, consider the essence of resistance. Imagine if blacks has merely accepted that they would be second class citizens and made a virtue of it. How far would that have helped civil rights?

I find it interesting that we are debating the need for tolerance on both sides. Yes, we can indeed talk to bigots and we should. We have to make deals. But we don’t need to apologize for their side and if “respect” for them means diminishing it for others and giving up our own deeply held beliefs in free speech and secular democracy, perhaps we should not be so respectful.

The communist empires fell from their own internal contradictions, but those contradicts were made open by the continued resistance of free people. Had we all just respected communism’s right to superiority, their dark age may have been much longer and widespread.

Posted by: Christine at June 8, 2009 10:47 PM
Comment #282674

Christine,

“The communist empires fell from their own internal contradictions, but those contradicts were made open by the continued resistance of free people.”

The communist empire fell because they were bankrupt. The communist empire because of the Solidarity movement, and Lech Wałęsa refused to budge.
The resistance came from within and without.

“But we don’t need to apologize for their side and if “respect” for them means diminishing it for others and giving up our own deeply held beliefs in free speech and secular democracy, perhaps we should not be so respectful.”

I don’t have a clue what/where the point is in this statement.
I have looked around and the only place I have found an Obama apology mentioned was on the right wing blogs, and even those didn’t make any sense.
One even suggested that Obama’s statement that we weren’t going to “nation build” was a slap in the face of emerging Democracies.

I keep hearing that we need to negotiate from a position of strength.
We already have enough firepower to vaporize every man, woman, and child, every living thing on this planet.
How much stronger do we need to be?

Maybe I need to be more plain.
I am not saying that we need to negotiate with bin Laden or al Qaeda.

We need to be talking to those moderate voices within Islam. We need to turn the children of those that are the fence. We need to make sure that turning to terrorism isn’t an option for those that could fall one way or the other.

We need to identify what makes someone so desperate that they feel the need to blow up a bus full of people to make a statement.

We can’t do these things with bullets.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 9, 2009 12:13 AM
Comment #282720

Rocky

I think Obama’s speech was good. He can make some concessions. No problem. He boldly called out the holocaust deniers. They knew who they were even if they were not specifically named.

We should also talk to moderate Islam. In fact we should talk to everybody. We just should not expect too much from some people.

The priciples of negotiation you might use in ordinary life apply here. When you go into the used car lot, you don’t just hand over your money and ask the guy to give you the best deal he feels appropriate.

BTW - I really don’t think we have a strong disagreement here. My complaint it with the perception that Islam is aggrieved at our hands. We cannot allow that. As with all human events, there is plenty of praise and blame to go around. Even if you don’t believe that to be true, there is no persuasion or negotiating value in giving away a position.

We are not going to “give back” the oil to the Arabs any more than they will give back our money that they took in exchange. I don’t think we have been undercharged. We are not going to demand the Israelis abandon their homes and give the land “back” to Palestinians, most of whom never lived there. And we really cannot be blamed for not bringing democracy to the Middle East, when the locals so strongly resist it.

Re blowing up a bus full of people, you may never understand it. Nazis were willing to commit mass murder for their racial theories. Pol-Pot’s followers massacred millions of their own people in order to make a point about their determination to follow their revolution. We have that in the U.S. What about that clown who killed Dr. Tiller or the one who killed the soldier in Arkansas. They have no reasonable justification.

Sometimes we don’t need to understand their ostensible grievances. We need to isolate the real hateful nuts. And, BTW, there has been progress. Support for Al Qaeda has been dropping like a stone since people have seen their real nature.

Anyway, I believe in a mixed approach, much as we successfully employed against communism. Talk to moderates; deal when you have to even with the bad guys; undermine the hateful ideology; provide alternatives; and stay strong enough to protect yourself when the other things don’t work out.

Posted by: Christine at June 9, 2009 7:47 PM
Comment #282734

Christine,

“My complaint it with the perception that Islam is aggrieved at our hands. We cannot allow that.”

I do not believe that “Islam” itself has been aggrieved by us, although I believe why these fundamentalists are pissed at America has more to do with our pillaging their culture (Islam aside) than any thing else.
A few years ago we were told “they hate us for our freedoms”. I don’t think so.
They hate us for MacDonald’s, and Levis, and Bay Watch, and…….
They hate us because we have dragged them, and their children, kicking and screaming, out of their simple lives and into the 21st century.

I don’t know about the typical Middle Easterner, but I have seen the look a Chinese laborer had in his eyes when he talked about America.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 9, 2009 11:44 PM
Comment #282824

Roc no MacDonalds or Coke in Syria and Iran or Iraq a few In Jordan it’s a Kingdom i believe and some in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia http://www.mcdonalds.com/content/countries/saudiarabia.html But there 100% Saudi Owned, Operated All McDonald’s restaurants in Saudi Arabia are owned and operated by leading members of the Saudi business community: in Central and Eastern Province by HH Prince Misha’al Bin Khalid Bin Fahad Al Faisal Al Saud of the Riyadh International Catering Co-operation, and in Western Province by Sheikh Abdulrahman Alireza of Reza Food Services.


Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 12, 2009 12:11 AM
Comment #282892

Rodney,

It was a metaphor.

Here is another.
In 1980 a movie called “The Gods Must be Crazy” was released.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gods_Must_Be_Crazy

“The members of Xi’s tribe are living well off the land in the Kalahari Desert. They are happy because the gods have provided plenty of everything, no one in the tribe has unfilled wants. One day, a glass Coke bottle is thrown out of an aeroplane and falls to earth unbroken. Initially, this strange artifact seems to be another boon from the gods—Xi’s people find many uses for it. But unlike anything that they have had before, there is only one bottle to go around. This exposes the tribe to a hitherto unknown phenomenon, property, and they soon find themselves experiencing things they never had before: jealousy, envy, anger, hatred, even violence.

Xi decides that the bottle is an evil thing and must be thrown off of the edge of the world. He sets out alone on his quest and encounters Western civilization for the first time. The film presents an interesting interpretation of civilization as viewed through Xi’s perceptions.”


The point is that a great many people on this planet didn’t know that they lived in the “Third World”, and they didn’t care. They were quite content with their lives until it was pointed out to them by someone that theoretically knew better that they lived in what the more developed world considered squalor.
In the Western World’s rush to progress, and it’s all out war to find the resources to fund that progress, many cultures have been trashed in the process.
People don’t like to be told that their life sucks, even if it does.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at June 13, 2009 10:33 AM
Comment #282907

I see i remember that movie good one and the “Quest for Fire” was good to Thanks Roc.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 13, 2009 5:00 PM
Comment #282948

“Netanyahu accepts limited Palestinian state”” saying it would have to be disarmed. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/ml_israel_palestinians “”“Netanyahu also said the Palestinians must recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and he declared that the solution of the Palestinian refugee problem must be “outside Israel.”

Posted by: Rodney Brown at June 14, 2009 2:29 PM
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