I have to admit that the situation in Syria and the Middle East is a little disturbing. Maybe a lot disturbing. In the normal course of events the rebellion would be crushed in Syria, but we are no longer within the normal course of events. And the Syrian mess is horribly intertwined with Israel’s threat to attack Iran, and the spreading instability from Syria … Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey are already getting spillover. And on the “World News” tonight on TV: The Washington Shooting, Immigration, Domestic politics, and … drum roll … the Loch Ness Monster. Yes dear reader, the sole actual international story on the American news tonight was about the latest Loch Ness Monster hoax. They didn’t call it a hoax though. And then they claimed people have been seeing the Loch Ness Monster since the seventh century. That, in the common or orc speech, is called a lie. Loch Ness Monster sightings date from 1933, which should have ended all the silliness long ago.
Yes, I’m digressing all over the place again. Syria, what’s to be done? I tried writing a blog post. Turns out just understanding the history of Syria is a few blog posts on its own, maybe dozens. Add current events and its a real conundrum. I’ll try and sum it up. Under the guise of supporting a democratic uprising in Syria, the USA and Israel are destabilizing Syria to further isolate Iran, and maybe even force it to capitulate on its nuclear program. Russia and China are supporting the status quo in Syria, and for the moment at least have forestalled direct NATO involvement. No lines in the sand have been drawn yet though. Everyone else in the region is trying to look after themselves, which sadly includes huge numbers of civilians and refugees at this point. And to spice up the mix, Israel is openly talking about a “30 day war” with Iran. And the Iranians responded with stupid sabre rattling of their own.
Fun fun times. It’s impossible to say where this will lead, but I don’t really see how this is going to lead to more peace and stability in the region. Syria, like so many Middle Eastern and African nations, isn’t a natural nation, just lines on the map drawn by France and England after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in World War One. That bodes ill for any peaceful end to this. The ongoing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan also bode ill for Syria, ten years after the west “liberated” them they are still failed states with no end in sight. Even Egypt’s new president has called for “regime change” in Syria, while criticizing Muslim on Muslim violence, especially during Ramadan. Encouraging violence while simultaneously criticizing it, I don’t even begin to understand that.
And then there’s Israel’s threat to carry out an extended bombing campaign against Iran. Sigh. The Israelis seem determined to keep themselves isolated and hated among nations of the Middle East, they are so stuck in siege mode that they can’t seem to imagine anything else. Once one has convinced oneself that their enemies are sub-human savages, it’s a short trip to believing that violence is the only option. Again, I can’t even imagine what the fallout from an Israeli war on Iran would entail. Though I certainly don’t imagine it leading to peace in the Middle East and a democratic western oriented regime in Iran. An Israeli attack on Iran would be Muslim militant fundamentalist’s wet dream though. That’s another aspect of this mess that’s appalling, so many of the actors seem to be deliberately taking steps that will lead to more Islamic militants and more terrorism. Madness, ignorance, or design? Damned if I know.
To me it’s clear that anyone who says they understand what’s going on the Middle East now is a liar or a fool. Decades ago a wag said that “If God is dead, he died trying to solve the Middle East Problem.” Truer now than ever. I think modern propaganda is making the situation worse, it has been a terrible force for polarization and tunnel vision. Having everyone in the region armed to the teeth isn’t helping any either. I also think Israel is one of the worst actors in the whole unwholesome mess, as I think their goal is to create a situation where they can ethnically cleanse the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the name of “national security.” The USA is running a close second, our foreign policy is so driven by domestic affairs that it has lost touch with reality. I don’t think anyone involved has pure motives though, at least not the major players. And of course I could be utterly wrong about any or all of this.
And here in America in the run-up to the fall presidential elections, we are having a spirited national debate on the wisdom of our militant and aggressive foreign policy. Snort. Nope, we have two war party’s calling the other side “soft on defence.” The one candidate, Ron Paul, actually calling for some sanity in our foreign policy is ignored or hated depending on who’s doing the ignoring or the hating. Lot’s of hating going around, that’s the one constant in all of this, domestically and in the Middle East. Yeah, that always ends well.
Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image is Public Domain under US copyright law, having been painted in 1872 by Peter Nicolai Arbo, Norway 1831-1892. It’s titled Åsgårdsreien, or in English, The Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt is a common myth across Northern Europe, it’s the sighting of a group of spectral hunters and hounds tearing across the sky. Sightings of it are often supposed to be an omen of disaster or war. I think the gentle reader can discern why I found it an appropriate illustration for this post.)