I've held off for a long time in writing political posts. It never makes me feel any better. And I'm always left with the feeling that the people who need to read them won't and, if by some chance they do, they won't believe what it contains, so what's the point?
I've been following politics in the Middle East since the late 70s, when some close family friends were stationed in Tehran. And I was fascinated, and sometimes horrified, by how much what we heard from them differed from what we heard on the news.
Now these folks were right in the center of the action. One day, the father, a college friend of my own dad, came home and said to his family "Pack one small bag each. We're leaving now!" They did so, went to the airport, and bought four tickets on the absolute next flight out of Tehran, ending up in Mali.
A week or so later, most of America started paying attention to Iran, if you know what I mean.
So anyway, with the Middle East yet again front and center in the news, I'm going to answer the question that won't be asked or, if it is, won't be answered truthfully:
Q: Why do so many people in the Middle East seem to hate America?
A: Because of:
a) Our "freedom."
b) Our "Christianity."
c) Decades of misguided foreign policy, promoted by both Democratic and Republican administrations, dictated by, and catering to the exclusive needs of, our "friends," both foreign and domestic, in d'awl bidness: a little coup here, a little backing of near-totalitarian but U.S. business-friendly regimes there, and a whole lot of arms-dealing everywhere.
Which answer makes the most sense to you?
Now this does not address completely the rise of radical Islam, however, it does account for its appeal to a large number of otherwise average shlubs: "These people have made your life worse; we will make it better." There is just enough plausibility to that to sell it. And sell it they do.
A small digression: Right-wing religious nuts are the same everywhere, whether they wear turbans or ties and regardless of what book they choose to thump. Give them political power and this is what you get.
I saw Hillary on TV this morning saying "Religious tolerance goes back to the very founding of our country." What?!? Some of my ancestors founded this country. They were Puritans: actual, witch-hunting Puritans, almost straight out of The Crucible. Their only notion of religious freedom was to have the freedom to practice as they chose and deal rather brutally with anyone else.
On the Catholic side of my family, we have the Inquisition. See? Right-wing religious nuts are the same everywhere.
None of this addresses what our response ought to be to events in the Middle East. To suggest that we can just let our people be killed is silly. On the other hand, our response should be based in reality, as outlined in item "c" above. That needs to be understood first.
You are welcome to interpret events differently, as long as you understand that any interpretation that does not take into account the points outlined in item "c" is fundamentally incorrect.
Let's wrap up with a little math:
Number 1 oil-producing country: Saudi Arabia
Number 2 oil-producing country: Iraq
Number 3 oil-producing country: Iran
Number of Saudis among the 19 hijackers on 9/11: 15
Number of Iraqis among the hijackers: 0
Number of bombs dropped on Saudi Arabia: 0
Number of bombs dropped on Iraq: ???
Number of Saudi princes heavily invested in FOX "News": 1
Q: In what country are the neo-cons itching to go to war next?
You do the math.
A final thought: first, let's consider how well the war in Iraq went. Now, let's consult an almanac (reality-based readers only.) Roughly speaking, it appears that Iran has twice the population and three times the area of Iraq.
You do the math.
Very Truly Yours,