PDA

View Full Version : about religion and society in the middle east



elf
03-26-2007, 07:47 AM
This extensive explication of the history of the religions of the area we call Iraq is pretty enlightening.

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/03/24/49/print/

Ian McColgin
03-26-2007, 09:27 AM
Great article. Ritter's argument here is, I think, correct though a little condescendingly preachy.

From Mohammed's time, town v. nomad has been the fundamental dialectic of Islamic theo-political struggle. Like Christianity, Islam is a religion of sects which are perfectly able to visit more violence on each other than upon infidels. The further one gets from Mecca, the simpler the divisions become; again like Christianity essentially a division between the cosmopolitan and the puritan.

Personally, I favor a complete bug-out from Iraq and an effort to minimize our presence in the Middle East. In a weird way, we are the victims of our (Anglo-French-US) century of oil-fired colonialism. If we leave, there will be violence and global economic trouble due to petro-instability. Thing is, we are making it worse by our meddling. The bad of the bug-out is less than the global evil we're now perpetrating.

Our best shot is to contain the internecine violence by working respectfully with other nations, including of course the incredibly populous Muslim nations of the Pacific, to push religious difference down the scale of human conflict.

It won't be easy. It's necessary for a variety of reasons mostly stemming from the fact that coercion does not work and even if it could, the current administration's reckless squandering of our military might has left us, if fact, a bit impotent.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
03-26-2007, 09:55 AM
Problem is, Ian, if we bug out, who bugs in?

In my parents' time (Iraq, Somalia, Lebanon, Libya, 1946-73) the answer was simple - the Russians would. Luckily for us, they were less wel equipped, intellectually and emotionally, to cope with the region than we were, but their tendency to dog our every move was notable.

Today it will be China; no better equipped than Russia was, but what follows them?

LeeG
03-26-2007, 09:58 AM
that's mighty condensed. kerist it took me a year and a dozen books in 2003 to break iraq into three constituencies then another year to realize that wasn't sufficient.

the comforting part is how well Rove, GW and Cheney know the American public.

LeeG
03-26-2007, 09:59 AM
Today it will be China; no better equipped than Russia was, but what follows them?


the people who live there?

elf
03-26-2007, 10:05 AM
that's mighty condensed. kerist it took me a year and a dozen books in 2003 to break iraq into three constituencies then another year to realize that wasn't sufficient.

Based on what you learned from such intensive study, do you find Ritter's summary accurate?

LeeG
03-26-2007, 10:22 AM
yes but my reading list is more a testimony to my poor retention and dificulty connecting dots than example of expertise. I'm not a disinterested critic of Ritter since his story about UNSCOM comprises a significant source of my information about the administrations disinformation campaigns.

Echoing Ians comment Ritter packages his ideas in tight blocks that don't ask permission to persuade. Which is kind of ironic because he's giving an example of complexity. I suspect his military training emphasized that manner of delivery.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
03-26-2007, 10:46 AM
the people who live there?

No chance.

That's their problem, and they know it, but they won't be doing anything about it. The elites have too much to gain from the system as it is.

Milo Christensen
03-26-2007, 11:22 AM
...if we bug out, who bugs in?...

...Today it will be China; no better equipped than Russia was...

The Chinese have learned a lot from the Russian mistakes. The Chinese offer a stick and carrot -- bilateral trade -- the Russians offered only the stick. I've been wondering what would happen if the West allowed China to get more involved in the Middle East.

Ian McColgin
03-26-2007, 11:28 AM
The near eastern elites really are obnoxious. Remember how all the rich Kuaities discoed away in Alexandria while the poor, many women, actually resisted Saddam?

Maybe they will fall on their own and maybe not, but everyone who's tried to meddle with them has made things worse. I doubt the Chinese will make a military effort anyway - more like a trading effort as they so want fossile fuels. Whole 'nuther problem that will be coming up whether we're in the Middle East or not.

To me the issue is the limits of effective intervention. We can probably see successful limited international interventions is small basket cases but not others - could we do good for Etria but not Somolia? Can anyone do good for the victems in Darfur? But how ever one grapples with such issues, there's really no way to enforce any behavior we might like on the grand swath of the Middle East right through all the 'Stans of the formerly Soviet Wild East and the Great Game borders. Best we can do is contain violence a bit, influence life a bit by trade, and hope (perhaps in vain) that natural human cupidity will cause people to want the pleasanter cosmopolitan life.

Our war is causing Iraqi deaths at a greater rate than Saddam ever dared. Much unintended, colateral and interniacine, but dead irregardless. That's why I say bug-out. What's left will be bad but is likely to be less grandly lethal.

Kaa
03-26-2007, 11:42 AM
To me the issue is the limits of effective intervention. We can probably see successful limited international interventions is small basket cases but not others - could we do good for Etria but not Somolia?

That's Eritrea and Somalia -- fairly different cases. In Eritrea you have a successful separatist movement that succeeded in splitting off from Ethiopia, and in Somalia you have the complete collapse of state.

But anyway, it's kinda hard to see what the limits of effective intervention are. Imagine yourself in 1945 -- what would you have said are chances for Japan to become a peaceful, thoroughly westernized nation?

Kaa

Osborne Russell
03-26-2007, 11:56 AM
Today it will be China; no better equipped than Russia was, but what follows them?

You have to admit it would be amusing to watch them attempt to justify it by their love of democracy and humanity generally. I'll get one of those conical straw hats, learn some pidgin Chinese and be Press Secretary.