posted on 09 December 2015
Written by Frank Li
The Middle East is a perpetual ticking time bomb, with volatile issues ranging from oil, to religion, to the war on terror, to the millions of displaced refugees, and to reckless political gambling (Turkey vs. Russia, Really?). After carefully studying some basics of the Middle East from my American perspective, I'd like to share them with you, supplementing my last article on the Middle East (Middle East: Past, Present, and Future).
1. Until 1945
Great civilizations come and go. Unfortunately for the Middle East, it fell behind in evolution when compared with other regions (e.g. Europe). Mired in its past, the Middle East remained poor until about 100 years ago, when oil became strategically and financially important. The good news was that a lot of oil was discovered in the Middle East. The bad news was that the Europeans colonized the Middle East, for oil, chiefly! Below is a map as a highlight (The Divide between America and The Muslim World).
It appears the Europeans, although primarily to their own benefit, were able to manage the Middle East reasonably well, especially when compared with the strife of the past few decades. But with the European departure from the Middle East after World War II, two remnants of European involvement became big problems:
A major event occurred after WWII forever changed the situation in the Middle East: nation building. Two examples:
2.1 Creation of the State of Israel
After the Holocaust, some kind of permanent settlement for the Jewish population was not only necessary, but also possible, given the powers of the WWII Allies. However, why Jerusalem? It was akin to re-settling millions of American Indians back onto Long Island some 2,000 years from now!
The British, the wise rulers of Jerusalem at the time, were opposed to it both conceptually and physically! For example, the British not only turned away many ships carrying Jewish migrants (SS Exodus), but also sank some (History of Israel)!
However, the more powerful, but less wise, Americans prevailed! As a result, the Jews officially came back to Jerusalem, as the new citizens of the new State of Israel, in 1948, some 2,000 years after their Exodus! For more, read: Wikipedia - Jewish diaspora and Wikipedia – Timeline of Jerusalem.
2.2 Creation and independence of many other countries
For a detailed description, read: Wikipedia - History of the Middle East.
Look at the map below, and let me highlight the "three kingdoms" in the Middle East: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq.
3. Three kingdoms in the Middle East
Aside from their relatively large size, the three kingdoms, unlike Egypt, have one important thing in common: oil. With assistance from America (some positive, some negative), they achieved, by 1980, a tenuous balance of power. Three examples:
America worked hard to keep the swing power in its favor. Two examples:
All hell broke loose after March 20, 2003, when America, under the brainless leadership of George W. Bush, recklessly launched the Iraq War, eventually causing the death of Saddam! Who then filled the power vacuum in Iraq? In the worst possible, but totally predictable, scenario for America: Iran!
Balance of power is a treacherous game long played by those in power, from ancient China to the modern world (Three New Kingdoms). Yet, neither President George W. Bush nor President Obama seemed to understand the basic premise. Specifically,
Or worse, perhaps, both understood it, but were reckless enough to ignore it for their personal gain: getting re-elected ad nauseam! For more, read: American Presidency: Why is One-Term a Must (Version 3)?
The three kingdoms in the Middle East are no more! Iran is becoming increasingly dominant there (Russia expects Iran nuclear deal to be implemented in January), while Saudi Arabia is becoming increasingly marginalized.
What complicated the matter further for America was that 15 out of 19 Hijackers on 9/11 were citizens of Saudi Arabia (Hijackers_in_the_September_11_attacks) - Why? America has chosen to virtually ignore the obvious question! Here is the simple answer: The Saudis are not really our allies!
Now, back to Israel ... A 2-state solution with the Palestinians may be the only answer! But even if both sides could ever agree, where do you draw the border lines?
The Middle East is a big mess. In fact, it has been a big mess for the past 2,000 years, at least! America’s brainless foreign policy and reckless actions have undoubtedly made it even worse, especially after the launch of the Iraq War in 2003!
Why is America so brainless and reckless? It’s The Political System, Stupid!
Bottom line: democracy does not work in the Middle East! Specifically,
Great civilizations come and go (Civilizations). Great empires come and go (List of largest empires). Great countries come and go (The Greatest Countries in Human History). All are true, with one, and the only, exception: China – come, go, and come! Specifically, not only is China the longest continual civilization throughout human history, China is also on her way back to the top after hitting her nadir!
So for many countries in the Middle East (e.g. Egypt), if you want real success, follow the China model! For more, read: Democracy: to be or not to be?
America, do not under-estimate China: its people, its wisdom, and most importantly its system – state capitalism! For more, read: Towards an Ideal Form of Government.
The Middle East is a big mess! Not only has America helped make it worse, America is also stuck there. An obvious question: will America withdraw from the Middle East like the British did after WWII?
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