Why I Write About the Greater Middle East

In my post last week I asked for feedback on my blog and received none.

Greater Middle East

Greater Middle East (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, none, not one.   I have to say I am surprised, but not terribly so when I consider my own reading of blogs and editorials, glancing at many and reading some and seldom leaving comments.    It is the way we are these days.  So much information available to us,  and so little time, a situation exacerbated by the misshaping of information to fit someone’s political ideology.   We can not even begin to integrate all that information because so much of it is suspect.

It often strikes me that we have more knowledge and less collective understanding than ever.

If you like a post you linger longer.  If not you move on sooner.   No need to comment unless you really want to and why would you really want to?  Ingest it or just move on.

Hey, I’ll just assume those of you who read this fairly regularly feel the way the reader cited last time  does:  “I’ve enjoyed receiving (the) American Titanic blog this year. You put it together judiciously, pacing its frequency and length just right, to be of passing interest each time. I like your generously including further web-refs, for anyone wanting to follow-through on a particular subject.”

Love that comment.

The other response to my post I listed was from my close friend Judy.  Since she doesn’t want to read about the Mid-East – too complex and too removed from her life – I want to say something about why I want to write about it, even  if hardly anyone else wants to read it.

I want to write about it because of its complexity and its potential for rocking our world.  I have paid attention to world affairs for nearly 50 years and believe I can give some useful perspective to the burgeoning chaos that envelops the region.

Three factors have guided our foreign policy towards the Greater Middle East:  Oil, regional stability and nuclear weapons, either already there or potentially so.  Of course, the three are tied together and all linked to Israel, both a staunch ally and source of ongoing problems.  In our desire to maintain stability, so our sources of oil remained reliable, we often backed dictators, such as the Shah of Iran and Hosni Mubarak of Eygpt and, lest we forget, Saddam Hussein, before he got too big for his britches and invaded Kuwait.

We placed our faith in strong men who could keep their  internal politics stable, and all things considered, that vast region had been much more stable than it is today.

The Greater Middle East has become much more difficult to deal with now, as the age of the strong man has diminished and the age of republics has yet to arrive.  What we take for granted as democratic processes has not been experienced by most of this region.  Except for Israel, India and possibly Turkey, the nature of rule is either strong men, some pretending to lead democracies, chaos or semi-chaos.  Trying to make sense of this gigantic region is particularly difficult these days because so much is unpredictable.

I think I have some useful perspective and worthwhile thoughts on that collective tumult, and so that’s why I will return to the subject again and again in upcoming months.   Much will happen and it won’t be easy judging events when they do.

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2 responses to “Why I Write About the Greater Middle East

  1. Hey Rich. First of all I hope you are feeling alright and getting through this crappy episode of your life. My thoughts are with you!
    I will bite on your challenge to respond to your comments. I agree that I read a ton about world affairs, and usually the best i do is forward articles I want to share. So I give no excuse and I agree with you about the history of the USA and their flawed foreign policy.
    The one area that continues to bite us in the butt is this idea that other countries want to live and think like us. Our assumption that we have all the ideas is preposterous, and really pompous. I dont begin to agree with the misogynistic and authoritarian powers of the middle east, but also change is very difficult and complex for societies that have been accustomed to the same systems for hundreds of years. Time and dialogue to find the commonalities such as the attempt by Sec Kerry concerning Syria.
    I look at our relationship to other countries like my relationship to other Americans who I completely disagree with. If I use an AK 47 to approach them, I am not sure they will be open to dialogue. Once again we are all human first, and trying to find ANYTHING that will start a conversation besides violence or the threat of it will be way more powerful then the biggest arsenal.
    And finally, my observation is that there is a significant segment of our country that wants very simple answers to very difficult problems. The panacea cannot be the McDonalds big mac way in 5 minutes. Critical thinking is hard and it takes some very good listening to have a useful conversation on both sides.
    Your friend Dave Rapp

    • Hi Dave. One of my favorite sayings is: For every complex problem there is a simple solution. And it’s wrong. (actually that is a paraphrase of something H.L. Mencken said, but I like this way better). Many, many people do not want to deal with the ambiguities common to most situations. It makes things difficult, but I like something George Washington once said when one of his subordinates complained of their troops serving short terms and then going home. We must manage “with men as they are, not as we would have them be.”

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