Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Middle East: A Policy and a Region in Disarray

While we were being distracted by the death of Osama bin Laden, history has been on the march in the Middle East. There, things are not looking very good.

Tom Friedman sums it up this morning: “Reading the headlines from the Middle East these days — Christians and Muslims clashing in Egypt, Syria attempting to crush its democracy rebellion and Palestinians climbing over fences into Israel — you get the sense of a region where the wheels could really start to come off.” Link here.

In truth, it looks as though the wheels really are coming off.

However well the administration dealt with Osama bin Laden-- and everyone agrees that it did exceptionally well-- the success of that operation cannot long mask its failure to manage the turmoil sweeping the Middle East.

Unfortunately, our national attention seems to have moved on.

Perhaps it’s because we  have a shortened attention span, or because the media, like the administration, is more interested in spinning a narrative than in reporting real events, but we are not paying close enough attention to what is happening in the Middle East.

The news from Egypt no longer makes the evening news. Celebrity journalists are no longer camped out in Tahrir Square. When the events are reported, they are taken to be somewhat akin to growing pains.

As though they are not our problem and not our concern.

And yet, reading Yasmine El Rashidi’s harrowing account of the conflict between radical Islamists and Coptic Christians you will come away with considerably less hope for the future. Link here.

To form a clear judgment about what is going on in an extremely important country like Egypt, we need good, reliable, objective information.

El Rashidi provides it in the linked report.


Deadman said...

“Christians and Muslims clashing in Egypt” sounds as if two sides, equally aggressive, equally at fault, are having a quarrel. One wonders whether Mr Friedman would refer to other conflicts so fairly: vikings and monks clashing in Lindisfarne; militiamen and Cheyenne and Arapaho clashing at Sand Creek; Japanese and Americans clashing at Pearl Harbor; the Hutu and Tutsi clashing in Rwanda ...

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Great point... I read over the paragraph so quickly that I missed it. It is truly amazing that he could introduce moral equivalence into the situation... a sign that he is completely out of touch with reality, yet again.

Hopefully, the report from Cairo that I linked will provide a more objective assessment.

Soviet of Washington said...

Friedman's a wise fool, wailing out warnings like a tragic chorus. But the tragedy will proceed anyway. The fight between Arabs and Jews in the ME is a generational issue between two cultures headed in different directions. NO politician (not even one MUCH more competent than Obama) could do more than delay the inevitable clash (which BTW is one of about 1/2 dozen in similar state around the world [e.g. India/Pakistan]).

As David Goldman (aka 'Spengler') has written:

The tragedies of history are tragedies in the precise sense of the term, that is, a disastrous event caused by an incurable tragic flaw. The flaws of a culture and of its leaders bring about its ruin, Thucydides explained in his Peloponnesian Wars two and a half millennia ago...The trouble is that today's Arabs (and to a great extent other Islamic populations) are in the position of the Slavs of 1914. They are an endangered culture, and like many endangered cultures, the extremists among them will take desperate measures.

Spengler: Do not click on this link

Stuart Schneiderman said...

But then, do you think it would be better, and perhaps more constructive, to abandon the notion of a peace process?

Much of what is called the peace process consists in demands for the Israelis to concede territory. Would the situation be improved if something could be done that would persuade the Palestinians that they are not going to reconquer Israel.

From what you say and from what Spengler suggests, I would think that that might be a better idea than continuing the fruitless pursuit of peace.