Monday, March 19, 2012

Our Middle East Muddling

Our Middle East Muddling

Western efforts in the Middle East are not going well. Hence:

Through no fault of my own, I was watching C-Span over the weekend.  I was never so happy to see something so sad.  Four middle-age, middle-class, suburban white men were sitting around discussing The Middle East.

Each man was a credentialed individual.  The hosting organisation was prominent.  The collective understanding of the Middle East was non-existent.

One fellow, in making a point, referred to a conversation he’d had with someone from the Middle East.  He began, “You should…”  He lost me immediately.   I wonder how his Middle Eastern colleague felt.

You Forgot to Tell the Other Guy In discussing on my blog, why strategies fail,  I opened with the following statement.  It is as true of Global Affairs as it is of business management, perhaps more so. 

Global Planning, eh? Did anyone tell the other guy?

Okay, now you are getting ready to plan globally. You are going to discuss:

Strategic Planning
Team Building
Market Penetration
The Visioning Process
Consensus Building
Project Management
and so on.

You will also consider financing, information technology, cloud computing, virtual servers, capital investment. You will achieve consensus the way others achieve nirvana. You will plan your work and work your plan.

You will fail.


You forgot to tell the other guy.

Based on this programme, and the one I watched on Sunday—same topic, four new middle-aged, middle-class, suburban white guys—I asked myself, “What would Muslims say in response to all this?  This monograph is, of course, for the benefit of the Middle East experts in this country. This is not what we want to hear. This is what we need to hear.

The First Amendment

One expert took the liberty of reading the first Amendment to your Constitution.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Now let us look at your posturing from the point of view from someone in the Middle East.  The reason for this is to underscore that many Arabs want American style freedom, but not American style government. 

If we embrace your form of government, what will be the benefits?  You criticise us for having what you call a Theocracy.  You accuse us of lacking sensitivity to various religions.  Well, let’s look at what you practice.

When the Valedictorian at Thomas Jefferson High School gives her address, she is allowed to discuss the eating of pork—offensive to Muslims. She is allowed to discuss drinking alcohol or having intimate relations without benefit of marriage—offensive to Muslims.  However, if she thanks Jesus for her success, she will be censored by the Principal.   

We must assume the same rule would apply to the Muslim student who wishes to praise Allah for his success. This you attempt to justify under the guise of separation of Church and State.   

We know that this is not in your Constitution.  It was fabricate by your Supreme Court. Your Supreme Court created a principal to negate, “nor prohibit the free exercise thereof. Hence, under your system, our Supreme Court will forbid our Valedictorian to praise Allah.  This is only a part of the Western Cultural Hegemony you wish to impose on the Middle East.

Your Supreme Court, on one occasion, declared separate to be equal among your diverse people. Then, they declared separate to be unequal.  Therefore, you now have a society of diverse people that is, for the most part, not separate but is still unequal.  Still, you lack the capacity to understand that our society is not for the most part, diverse.  Stop trying to tell us it is to justify your pretense and gratify your pretensions.

Your Second Amendment

There are many Muslims who know your history better than many of you know ours.  In 1776 you fought an open, armed rebellion against what was at that time your legitimate Government over the minuscule tax on tea—taxation without representation.  Those of you most concerned about freedom, and those who claim to be charged with the responsibility of protecting the civil liberties of your people, have concluded that this right to keep and bear arms has limitations.  Sensible, perhaps; however, some have gone so far as to declaim that the amendment is there to protect the right of the government to maintain regulated militias.

Let’s look at Libya.  What if Colonel Gaddafi and the Libyan Civil Liberties Association told the Libyan people that their second amendment right was the right of the Libyan government to form militias to protect the Libyan people?  There would have been no liberation of the Libyan people.

We hold these truths to be self-evident; that each man is endowed by his creator with inalienable rights.

Now that we have established that your revolution and new government arises from rights that you received from God, and that you wish to create a peaceful society, and that you have enumerated rights to protect your citizens, let’s look further.

You have accused the Muslim society of being a society of violence.  Yet, we see the violence perpetrated against the Loyalists in 1776.  We see the enslavement of Africans.  We see the bombing of Churches and the killing of children.  We see the violence of Corporations against workers who try to form unions.  And we see the violence of labour against the businesses they work for.  We see “peaceniks” rioting for peace in your streets.  We see Americans bombing Federal Buildings, or trying to.  And when they are captured, they are represented by Laudable Attorneys protecting their civil rights. 

Now, what about civil discourse? 

We see those who claim to be protecting their rights to free speech; attempt to protect that right by violating the rights of others through heckling.  And we see the hypocrisy.  “When they do it, it is censorship.  When we do it, it is sensitivity. “

On your news programmes we see the hypocrisy of debate played out every night. Pundits, politicians, contributors—some on the left, some on the right—evading questions, telling half –truths, interrupting each other with contradictions that are vague at best if not untrue, or all talking at the same time.   

This is not debate, this is a farce.  Has no one mentioned to your most distinguished public intellectuals that belligerent, argumentative, and rude, are not attributes of civilised, intellectual debate?  Then there are those who attempt to intimidate opponents with either ridicule or false and malicious allegations that malign their character, their integrity, their faith, and or their sanity.


One member of your Congress, the single-most august legislative body in the secular world, told the people that that Congress has a 9% approval rating.  (Perhaps he forgot that he is a member of that Congress.) 

To your Congress:  there is an incontrovertible fact—your people don’t like you.

Your President Clinton stated that Government is the store and the American People are the customers.  According to your Constitution, your Government is the store; the American People are the owners.  The owners have said you performance is not acceptable.  They don’t say this only every four years in a Presidential election.  They said it when the people gave control of your Congress to the Republicans in the mid-term election of President Clinton’s first term—“I’m not going to tax and spend, I’m going to tax and invest.” [Perhaps too many people remembered President Carter.] 

They said it when they handed authority to the Democrats with the election of President Obama.  Then came, “If you want to find out what’s in the bill you have to vote for it.”  Is anyone surprised that the people returned control of the House of Representatives to the opposing party?  The surprise—and irony, however, is that the first time this happened, the Republicans worked with the President.  Now, the Republican Party is controlled by the Tea Party—the Party of No.  Plus ca change…eh?

To quote one of the most eloquent of your Presidential orators, Lyndon B. Johnson, 

“I ain’t never learned nothin’ talkin’” [sic].

This is excellent advice.  Everyone wants to talk to the Muslims.  Everyone wants to explain US policy in the Middle East.  [How long ago was the mantra, “If you don’t agree with me, it’s my fault. I didn’t explain it properly.”]   

This seems to me to be what the Arabs would say to us.

Perhaps it would help if we listened long enough to find out what the “Policies” of Middle Eastern Nations are toward the US and other Western Countries.

“It is a universal condition.  We refuse to accept that all alliances and enmities are transitory.”  The quotations of Slim Fairview.

China sees the world from a mountain top 6,000 years high.
The Middle East sees the world from a mountain top 4,000 years high.
Europe sees the world from a mountain top 2,000 years high.
We see the world from a mountain top 236 years high.—Slim Fairview

“No one agrees with someone else’s opinion; only his own opinion expressed by someone else.” – My Dad.

We may be the biggest kid on the block, but we are not bigger than all the other kids on the block put together.

“Diplomacy—If you have to explain it, it’s not diplomacy.”

Bon chance.

Warmest regards,

Further reading:

Copyright © 2012 Robert Asken as Slim Fairview
All rights reserved.

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