Do not look for logic and consistency in the Middle East for they are not to be found.
It makes no sense to be frustrated that Arab intellectuals and reformers damn us for removing Saddam while they simultaneously now praise the democratic rumblings that followed his fall. We should accept that the only palatable scenario for the Arab Street was one equally fanciful: Brave demonstrators took to the barricades, forced Saddam’s departure, created a constitution, held elections, and then invited other Arab reformers into Baghdad to spread such indigenous reform-all resulting in a society as sophisticated, wealthy, free, and modern as the West, but felt to be morally superior because of its allegiance to Islam.
This is the dream that they found preferable to the reality: the Americans alone took out the monster of the Middle East; any peaceful protest against Saddam would have ended in another genocide; and adherence to Islamic fundamentalism is a prescription for economic stagnation.
Ever since the departure of the European colonials, the United States, due to its power and principled support for democratic Israel, has served as a Middle Eastern psychological need to account for its own self-created impotence and misery. This is a pathology abetted by our own past realpolitik and nurtured by the very autocrats that we sought to accommodate and who now, in their 11th hour, have turned on us for following principles rather than their own promises to maintain order and status quo.
After all these years, do not expect praise or gratitude for billions poured into Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, or Palestine-or thanks for the liberation of Kuwait, protection of Saudi Arabia in 1990, the remove of Saddam, more less for Americans concern for Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Somalia, the Sudan, or Afghanistan. Our past sins always must be magnified as much as our more recent benefactions are slighted.
The Western reader might well conclude that the “Arab Street” is delusional; an apt characterization while acknowledging that Arabic perception is the stuff of their self-serving cultural reality.
In confronting age old incendiary Middle East issues and the Islamist agenda, the error is ours if we insist on misunderstanding the Arabic mind and then predicating our actions solely from a Western perspective. That is true whether the Arabic mind is in the Middle East or in America. Concurrently, we must continue to offer the philosophy of Western style freedoms as a viable alternative and a helping hand up for a culture which last enjoyed greatness 1,000 years ago.
Source in this Blog:
Gaffney, Frank J, & Colleagues, "War Footing," Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 2006, pgs xvii-xviii.