I wrote this the other night and due to a continuing problem with my computer, especially when I’m mobile, that is remote, away from a landline connection, I could not post it. I note this because as I was driving today (which is now already yesterday on my blog time) and listening to the Ronn Owens show on KGO Radio, San Francisco they were talking about the Saudi eye-for-an-eye method, among other things, and many people were appalled as I was at such backwardness. Also, while the thesis of this post is that we should pull back from the Middle East (I guess that’s what it is, anyway), I also remember now that in the real world what happens is that if one power draws back another steps in. In this case, the Russians are apparently helping the Iranians with their nuclear program. Even though they are supposedly trying to safeguard from the Iranians getting bomb capability and only helping them to create power — well, if you really think that will be the case…. And if we withdraw from Afghanistan, others will step in, to include the Chinese, and grab the abundant minerals that are supposed to be there. And anyway, now that I’ve written this long preamble, I realize that I was writing about the ongoing struggle of East vs. West, so I don’t mean we should quit, rather we need to be more circumspect in our actions going forward.
First it’s the execution of young lovers by stoning them to death for the “crime” of trying to elope, done at the direction of the Taliban in Afghanistan; that was a few days ago.
Now today I read that our nominal ally Saudi Arabia may punish a man who took after another with a meat cleaver and left him paralyzed by having doctors paralyze him, the attacker, by damaging his spinal cord.
And we mustn’t forget the pending case against a 43-year old Iranian mother who was sentenced to be stoned to death but who now, thanks to the mercy of the Islamic government of Iran, may only face death by hanging — she is accused of being an adulterer, something she claims she was forced into confessing by means of torture (well, the West, or at least the U.S., is not completely off the hook on that one — i.e. our torture of Islamic prisoners — make ’em talk, do anything to make ’em talk!
While having to note our own aberrations from civility, I have to wonder: Why do we even deal with cultures who behave in such barbaric ways?
Yes, once upon a time our ancestors in the Western World did things like this, but we have moved beyond this, for the most part, executions in the U.S. notwithstanding.
In Afghanistan the latest stoning was done at the behest of the Taliban insurgents who were once in control of that country and who well may take over completely again. While some in Afghanistan may not approve of the Taliban action, from what I read many Afghans do — it’s part of their religion and culture.
I know we, the U.S., need oil in the region, and I know we can’t just avoid everyone and everything in the world because it does not always agree with our sensibilities, but it seems we should draw the line somewhere.
I am uncomfortable with the cozy relationship we have with Saudi Arabia. By being on its side we support cruel social practices such as administering justice via goulash operations, amputations and a severing of a spinal cord?
And I always recall that the 9/11 attackers were Saudi Arabians, although supposedly not sponsored by that kingdom itself — but it does seem strange.
There is an ongoing culture clash between East and West.
I for one hope the West wins.
But I am not sure taking the East head on is the way to go. I fear we are being sucked in:
The war in Iraq that is over, but not really over; the quagmire that is Afghanistan; the taunting by Iran, building a nuclear capability and thumbing its nose at us and threatening all the while to annihilate Israel, which for better or worse we are sworn to protect; the temptation for the U.S. or Israel or both to pre-emptively attack Iran, thus threatening global war; the ongoing unprecedented flooding of Pakistan, which adds to the chaos of a nation that has the bomb and is under internal threat by Muslim and anti-American extremists.
It seems to me that we are being played the sucker by our enemies and with the aid of mother nature in the case of Pakistan.
Instead of constantly shifting our forces from one place to the other in the Middle East, we might do better to pull back and regroup into a more defensive posture.
There are far more of them (the hordes of the East) than there are us (the civilized West).
At one time I am sure that the thinking was that we would slowly but surly transform the backward East into a modern civilized (western-styled) society. But while some in the East want to and do follow our ways, a larger number may not.
The Crusades of old were about religion.
The struggle today has religion in it, but it is more about survival of civilization as we in the West know it.
We do face a threat from within as well from the forces of something that amounts to a kind of reactionary right-wing neo-Nazism. But we can’t even defend ourselves against that if we get sucked into a trap in the East.
Right now we are dealing with our own economic and culture change and it is quite painful. And we are extremely vulnerable because it seems our middle class is disappearing. It was the middle class that brought us the form of democracy that we have today.
Technology is moving at an accelerated pace, leaving millions with nothing productive to do.
There is a deep threat to western civilization as we know it.
We need to regroup at home in order to withstand the onslaught of the East.
The proposed building of a mosque or cultural center some blocks away from ground zero of 9/11 is not a threat in and of itself, probably, but it is a symbol nonetheless.
While I think constitutionally the backers of the mosque have every right to go ahead, I would hope some kind of compromise could be reached.
It may be that Islam poses no real threat to the West, but rather some of its factions or some who misuse its name do. But I have not seen enough evidence that such is the case. It seems Muslims are too quiescent in the debate on whether their religion is attempting to take over the West.
My newspaper tells me that the Imam who wants to build the mosque near the 9/11 ground zero is now saying that religious extremism is posing security threats all over the world — amen to that. Also there was a story about some American Muslims condemning Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism (they had just returned from visiting former death camps in Germany) — that’s encouraging.
(Well of course we know good Christians want to be predominate, but they already are in the West — like it or not it is ingrained into our culture, even if you are not Christian.)
The U.S. and others in the West have certainly done things over the decades to bring on some animosity and resentment — kicking out Palestinians to create Israel, as an example (and I know it‘s a long and complicated story, really).
But overall the West has tried to do good, sending much foreign aid to nations of the Middle East and East and all over the world.
Come to think of it, we probably should not have tried to help Afghanistan all those years ago in fighting off the Soviets. In the first place they apparently did not really need our help. In the second place, what did we get? The 9/11 attack on us.
They used to say “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.”
In this modern world that is not exactly true. But there is a divide and we need to keep up our end.
I don’t know maybe that last sentence was a kind of mixed metaphor — I just go stream of consciousness sometimes, nearly all the time.