One of the joys of my early life was to study English Literature at Cambridge in England back in the early 1960s. Nobel prize author and poet Rudyard Kipling was an early favorite. He did not bog the reader down with dense symbolism and complexity. He was easy to understand. Born in India, Kipling was tagged as the “Poet of the British Empire. It just might be a good idea for Republicans and Democrats, who fall over themselves espousing America’s continuing role in the Middle East, to take a breather and read a little Kipling.
“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat.”
Kipling expressed his concerns of imperialism in his book, The Man Who Would Be King, which was made into one of my favorite movies. In it, Sean Connery loses his head attempting to bring his western values to a remote mountain vastness called Kafiristan. Michael Caine is left alive to crawl back to civiliation and bring the message to the West -- “quit trying to convert and save us” in the Middle East.
America has commanded a major presence thoroughout the Middle East for the past 60 years for one major reason. No, a singular reason. Oil. It was in our economic interest to remake the Muslim world by the B and B method. Bribing and Bombing. In the 1980s, U.S. interests were served by pouring money and weapons into Afghanaistan in support of Islamic radicals who were trying to expel the Russians. Then our one time allies turned on us, and the initial seeds of al-Qaeda were sown, and America has been in a quagmire ever since.
In the last decade, we plunged into Iraq, where there was initially only a minor al-Qaeda presence. But the quixotic U.S. invasion poured gasoline onto the anti U.S. fire, causing the death of some 6700 American soldiers, leaving a country in shambles, with not one barrel of oil confiscated in this wasted effort. Then it was on to Afganistan, and again, for no apparent reason. (But al-Qaeda is lurking!) Osama bin Laden is dead but his effort to bog down the U.S. in endless Middle East wars is right on target.
Now the U.S. faces a renewed crisis. Some California nut diseminates a cheesy movie about the dangers of the Muslim world, futher fanning the flames of hatred of the U.S.. It is perfect fodder for blame for the current Middle East uprising. This strictly low rent amateur film has caused outright chaos throughout the Middle East. The movie caused it, right?
Forget the fact that the attack and death of the American Ambassador in Lybia happened the same day as the anniversary of the 9/11 attack on New York. Forget the fact that these new Middle East democracies are protesting over the decades of U.S. support for the dictators who ruled them with a repressive fist. It was all about a movie!
Writing in the British newspaper The Guardian, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad concluded, “The maelstrom of anti-western violence in the Arab world has little to do with an anti-Islam propaganda film released on YouTube. It has more to do with decades of perceived western imperialism. Barack Obama's Arab honeymoon was squandered by drone attacks on Pakistan and Yemen.”
Drone attacks he points out are used to get rid of the bad guys. And yes, we need to get rid of the bad guys. But as children’s book author Dr. Paul Craig Roberts points out in a recent Trends Journal article:
“Washington's assaults on seven countries have blown up weddings, funerals, kids' soccer games, farm houses, hospitals, aid workers, schools, people walking along the streets, village elders, but the Muslims don't mind! They understand that the well-meaning Americans, who love them and are committed to their human rights, are bringing them democracy and women's rights. The million or more dead, maimed, and displaced Muslims are a low price to be paid for liberation by Washington.”
Do you catch his sarcasm? This is the way a delusional Washington works, thinks. It’s the hateful and wrong-minded film from California, not Washington's slaughter of innocent Muslims and control over their societies and political life that causes the rage against us.
The Middle East has been in turmoil for over 2000 years. And just about everyone has attempted to control this part of the world over the course of history. The Egyptians, Turks, Jews, Romans, Arabs, Persians, Europeans...the list goes on -- none with any degree of long-term success.
From all this turmoil, there are lessons to be learned, especially for the U.S. First, make a massive effort to become independent of Middle Eastern oil. Second, read more Kipling. In his novel, The Naulahka, he writes:
"And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased,
"And the epitaph drear: 'A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.'"