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I read this in Harvard Mag, the essay of an Islamic scholar, but his point was this: what's going on in the MIddle East is not what you think. It's really a conflict between Muslim "protestants" and "catholics," (not Shia and Sunni, not "moderate" and "extremist"). The west, he argued, is really on the fringes of this conflict, since it is not Muslim.

What the US is doing, with Afghanistan and Iraq, and the escalation, with encouraging the Ethiopians in Somalia, is attempting to put our thumb on the scale. The effect, in most cases is exactly the opposite of our intent: opposition by Muslims who may not like the "protestants" but who like foreign, western, Christian intervention even less.

Of course the US has its own reasons...

which I went into in the previous post: the massive oil reserves (made accessible by the future oil law) and markets generally.

The point, however, of seeing the chaos of the Middle East through this lens, is that the US really has little to do with the conflict, and that most of our military efforts will end up being counter-productive.

What we should be doing is letting the chips fall where they may, but not giving up on penetrating these markets with our consumer goods and our ideas.

What we are doing now is de-stabilizing, not only with our armed interventions, but by making it necessary for virtually every state and failed state to be heavily armed to protect itself--from us, first of all. Of course that creates markets for our defense industry, but it does not redound to our ultimate interest.

I remember discovering that the Viet Cong armed themselves from the supplies we gave the South Vietnamese. Well, if we continue to tromp all over the region with our weapons, we can expect to see more and more of them used against us. And against those we might want as friends.

Better to just get out, let the defense contractors go broke, and sell the Arabs I-pods. I-pods would be a much more effective counter to "the protestants" than any number of bombers, fighters, machine guns and tanks.

Originally posted to douglassmyth on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 11:30 AM PST.


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Comment Preferences

  •  The correct war... (0+ / 0-) the one that occured before the Treaty of Westphalia...not The Hundred Years war but close.  That was fought between France and England.  You are taking about the ___ years war. anyone care to provide the right number.

    the essayist is off though.  Monarchs and secular dictators already ruled the Arab world.  They had handed the fundies their collective heads from Algeria to Iraq.

    If anything we've tipped it so that the fundies are in a position to win.  

    •  thirty years war n/t (0+ / 0-)

      How in mercy's name can McCain not know the true cost of war?

      by Wee Mama on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 11:56:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  correct. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        All the issues of the reformation were completely settled at that point.  However, then the dynastic rulers of the european states headed off into a new series of war--the Spanish succession, the French Indian wars, Frederick the Great, and on and on it went.

        •  There was actually a surprisingly large political (0+ / 0-)

          component to the Thirty Years War itself. It is generally presented as a religious war but when you check out the alliances that is not the exclusive cause.

          How in mercy's name can McCain not know the true cost of war?

          by Wee Mama on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 12:13:47 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  absolutely (0+ / 0-)

            One interpretation is that is was the end of Habsburg (Austrian, Spanish) power and the rise of Bourbon (French) power.  

            maybet the diarist shoud modify the title.  The conflicts between the Capetian and Plantenets though interesting have little to do with the religious conflict between Catholic and Protestant Germans.  

            btw Smythe, secularism (princely sovereignty) was seen as a solution to the fanatical attempts of Catholics and Protestants to convert each other. niether side was secular.  

            I dunno what this war in Iraq is but it isn't about us tipping the scales in matters of religious coscience. We set off an imperialistic dirty bomb.

  •  no, it can't go to 100 years (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    There won't be enough oil over there to make extraction for transportation energy cost-effective in 100 years. Or in 50. Probably not in 20. Maybe not in 10. Also remember that every barrel of the stuff we burn promotes global warming... which is already showing up in the form of "weird weather".  

    Foriegn policy in the Middle East should reflect energy realities. There's no point in running up a war debt that it'll take generations to pay if there aren't generations of oil over there.

    The question I have is. . . do we really need to send armed guards to the dairy with orders to shoot their way in if need be if all we want is to buy milk? In other words, do we actually need troops in the Middle East to make sure somebody will sell us oil?

    Absent oil, the Middle East oil countries are economically insignificant. Their non-oil exports combined are about equal to those of Finland. So neocon dreams of empire aside, just why do we need to permanently rule them when they'll be a major economic liability Real Soon Now?

    Our energy priorities should be focused on replacing oil with biofuels, because no military effort can get oil where there isn't any to get, and most of us will see the day when there's no more oil worth fighting over within our lifetimes.

    Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

    by alizard on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 05:41:20 PM PST

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