November 18, 2007

The Hornets' Nest

As sick as I am of discussing the stances against the war that Ron Paul made me look twice at, every once in a while I hit upon something and think, "maybe that will get us somewhere in coming to an agreement on it". So, folks, this post is not about Ron Paul per se, but about something very important to understanding his "get out now" stance. Today we're going to argue about the Middle East.

If one looks at the cultural, religious and political history of the Middle East, I would dare that person to try and say there isn't some undercurrent of divisiveness there. A very strong undercurrent at that. Long before Mohammed united the Arabs with his religion, they had been fighiting amongst each other for ages. Soon after his union spread, it split into multiple sects who warred amongst each other whenever they weren't warring againts "infidels". From what I've heard, fueds between rival families in the Middle East today go back centuries. Throughout the past century it has been land held together only just barely by treaties that seemed almost destined to fall apart sooner or later. After all, even in the midst of those treaties governments have fallen while religious persecutions continue. Even when a "stable government" exists it fights its subjects. I dare you to try and deny this with good evidence.

Now, enter us. We come in and think that if we for some good reason screw this hornets' nest over a bit, we can fix it if we put enough effort into killing off the angry hornets. That's naive. The only ways that could actually be accomplished involve taking out with them a substantial portion of innocent people ill-fatedly born into that part of the world. That doesn't seem to me to be a just way of dealing with it. Care to try to claim otherwise? If not, well, let's just put it the following way.

You can't fix the Middle East by military means without killing an astounding number of innocents who just happen to be unlucky enough to be there. We've tried for decades to fix this millenia old bonfire. In previous generations the best we've gotten is a temporary fix. Like bandages on a broken arm: they won't heal the real wound, only the skin. Unless you can convince me otherwise, I'm not going to expect anything worth our time and trouble in surges and other attempts to fix part of the Middle East. It sounds to me like saying, "If we just put energy into it we can build a perpetual motion machine!" (I'll admit I'm a geek who has toyed with the whole perpetual motion machine idea, and say that that only means I should be more experienced with the difficulty -- impossibility.) But so far I've merely described my position; surely, you say, the characteristic Mr. Logic has some more definitive proof of his statement?

Of course. My proof is thus: that history shows the temperament of Middle East peoples, by which I mean their cultures as wholes, and the background they have together are entirely inconducive to being held together by anything except, possibly, radical Islam. You may disagree based on individuals there who want peace; I say such individuals are the reason why we can't do the one and only thing we could do to end the chaos there considering that undercurrent of hate and disruption: kill everyone. Care to find some definitive disproof of there being hate and disruption as an undercurrent we can't fix by more war effort? Then do so and come back and tell me.

Till then, I hold that logically if we can't fix it, then even if the war is right in principle it is an impossible impracticality that we would not be wrong to pull out of immediately.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree! Well said.

The whole reason I supported this war in the first place is that I felt sure there were loads of people in the Middle East, just waiting for liberation. Just waiting for Sunni and Shiite to walk hand-in-hand. Just waiting for those long-oppressed Kurds to be able to live in peace.

Needless to say, the education I've received about [radical] islam since shows that I was wrong.


November 18, 2007 7:40 PM  
Blogger The Thirsty Gargoyle said...

I'm not sure your observations on the Middle East really work - it's difficult to think of a culture more soaked in its own blood than that of Europe, after all.

And I say that as someone who lives here!

November 19, 2007 4:32 AM  
Blogger Shakespeare's Cobbler said...

Europe, though, has Christianity as its background. Islam, whatever its apologists may say, has a history of feeding the conflict. There's where the difference lies.

November 20, 2007 12:44 AM  
Blogger Shakespeare's Cobbler said...

And with further reflection, I realize I should add that the most chaotic and bloody times in Europe have been when Christianity was splitting and our past century of Christianity being largely gone if not weak.

Now to bed, and more reflecting in the morning.

November 20, 2007 1:06 AM  
Blogger The Thirsty Gargoyle said...

It's certainly fair to say that Europe's bloodiest centuries have indeed been those that have seen the sundering and the collapse of Christendom, but it's not as if we've been peaceful at other times.

Europe's roots aren't wholly Christian, much as we might wish that to be the case. The Greeks, the Romans, the Celts, the Germans, the Slavs, the Magyars... these all had their own gods, and their perchant for warfare did carry into the Christian era.

Think of the local warfare that was endemic through the medieval period, the small change of European life, something that really only slackened when there were major internal wars or else enemies outside: sometimes they were invading Saracens, Vikings, and Magyars, and on other occasions the Europeans sought enemies in wars of reconquest in Spain or the Middle East.

The conquests of the Americas, Africa, and India were hardly achieved without bloodshed either, and the descendants of the Europeans in North America and Australia hardly covered themselves in glory in their treatment of the natives.

I wish this were otherwise, but I really think the history of the West is as troublesome as that of the East. As one of my most pro-European friends has remarked, 'We have a lot in common, after all, notably century piled on century of rape, pillage, and random murder.'

November 20, 2007 9:03 PM  
Blogger Shakespeare's Cobbler said...

Well, perhaps you're right on that. At any rate, though, my point wasn't to say that they couldn't eventually be converted to an attitude at least conducive to peace, just to say that I don't see how military might is going to end the unrest just by killing off those who appear malicious.

November 21, 2007 9:38 PM  

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