Wednesday, 8 July 2015

A review of a review of a book of a collection of essays.

This is a post in response to the following blog post about the content of a book found at

I've got a few problems with that abstract and I'll highlight them here. First: the need for a Western “forward policy” in the Gulf in order to protect U.S. and European interests, particularly oil and its transport, against both Soviet adventurism and the greed of Middle Eastern potentates. translated : the need for policies to protect western multinational corporations and their greed and shift the risks on to the American public via a cost in both American citizens lives and tax dollars to protect said western multinational corporation's interests. The mentality that the Middle East, or for that matter any place in the world where multinational corporations want to exploit local resources, fighting against said multinationals is a bad thing is simply "Fuck the locals, the world's rich people we identify as like us deserve that resources, and ultimately money, more than they do". When the Eastern block countries do it then it is "adventurism" when the Western multinationals do it then it is called "capitalism". One only has to look at the number of times crony capitalism, or as we call it in the USA 'Capitalism', has little to no regard for anything but short term gain because they know the risks they take will most likely not be shouldered by those that take the risks and get the reward regardless of the outcome. The "greed of Middle Eastern potentates" is also rich. It rubs us wrong in the west because of its imperial implication but our rich are effectively the same. They often inherit their wealth and control the politicians and thus the laws to keep themselves wealthy and thus in power. Would you complain if a US leader stopped Russia from trying to exploit any of the US's natural resources? Nope. Funny enough we let western multinational corporations rape those same natural resources further demonstrating Western potentates or as we call them "the mega rich American's" The issue is many American's look at those rich people and think "If I work hard enough I could be just like them" when the reality is it will never happen. Even winning the lottery a few times in a row wouldn't get you there. The American dream is just that. A dream that has been swapped out by those that already have theirs. So it is not much different then a "Royal family" in the Middle East. Second: The use of the word "liberal" in this synopsis with reference to the "West". The article refutes it's own claims by its own lead "how little we’ve learned about the Middle East.". One can not start out by pointing out how little the west has learned about the Middle East then call the US liberal. Third: The “affirming a disjunct” logical fallacy throughout the entire article. Is there truth to many of the reasons they claim there are problems? Fuck yea! But that doesn't mean that the way the West has exploited the area for almost a hundred years isn't also a significant part of the issue. You can’t handwave away those issues. Yet this is what many people want to do or are just ignorant of those issues. It reminds me of Bill Cosby. Denial that he did anything wrong. Shifting the blame and rationalisation when he is forced to a point that he can’t deny what he did wrong any longer. Much of the USA does it with regard to the black community. The idea that slavery was oh so long ago. “The got the right to vote decades ago!”. All the while ignoring the reality then trying to claim that blacks deserve to be targeted by law enforcement because they are just thugs. That all crime in the black community should cease before we attempt any further discussion about racism within the USA. Fourth: The idea that the "West" only wants democracy for the area and it is just these primitive people that won't accept it is the major problem. The reality is we've never really brought democracy to the area. We supported and often put in place the same autocrats the article complains about. Fifth: The idea of tribalism as bad. The USA can be thought of, in one respect, as one huge tribe. You'll hear it coined by other terms like "National Exceptionalism". The article will complain about a "tribe" wanting what is best for their local people while we want what is best for "our nation" which these days isn't really for the nation but again what is best for the multi-national corporations. We often subdivide our national tribe when we don’t like what is good for the national tribe. We push these things into terms like “State’s Rights” The fact is we are humans with a fairly well understood social evolution. For hundreds of thousands of years most humans, Homo sapien, whole social world was a few hundred people at most and tribal. People point to the bible thinking that it is a moral code for all people but in reality it is a code for a tribe. It is full of laws on how you treat people within the tribe compared to how you treat people outside of your tribe. Even western people still pull this tribal mentality all the time. Look at any competitive activity we are involved in. Fuck even things that shouldn’t be competitive we still do it. Every sporting team is drilled how they are some how better and more deserving than the others. When anyone tries to belittle “tribalism” like they are above it I’ll point out the hypocrisy they display every day of their lives. The comment of “Any progress towards political maturity has been stultified by their inability to comprehend any loyalty other than that to family, tribe or religious sect. Loyalty to the nation or to the constitution is a concept devoid of meaning for them.” ignores so much it isn’t funny. Look again at issues we have in the USA where people bitch about “State’s Rights”, often in a vain attempt to hold on to some bigoted view that most of the country finally recognizes is bad for society. Look at the religious divides in the USA. A small but vocal component of the Christian majority will cry persecution any time their doctrine isn’t allowed to be shoved down the throats of all Americans. Non believers make up about 14% of the US population yet when you look at representation within politics, especially federally, it is devoid of non believers. Why? For the same reason every president ever elected so far has claimed to be Catholic. Most people in the USA will vote for a candidate based on their stated religion over an opponent even in the face of the politicians actual positions. Iraq should not have been 1 country. It would be like if the USA the North East was primarily Secular Humanists, the South East was primarily Southern Baptists and the West was Hindu. You’d see that the USA wouldn’t work very well together. We need not look far to see this type of behavior. Look at Canada and the strong divide between the East and west and their mentality. Fuck look at Texas and tell me a decade that has gone by where there hasn’t been people bitching that Texas should secede from the union. When a national disaster hits you always hear people bitch how their tax dollars should not go to aid some other state. Realistically Iraq should have been 3 countries. The north which is primarily Sunni Kurds, the West where are primarily Sunni Arabs and the south which is primarily the Shia Arabs. It is understandable that a Sunni Kurd will have little ties to the Shia Arabs in the south and may not want to risk their lives for them. Fuck you have plenty of Americans that wouldn’t want to risk their lives for their neighbors because their neighbor is Black or White or Latino or gay or Muslim or atheist. If we had a civil conflict in the USA how do you think it would pan out? Oh fuck me we did and look America almost split in 2.

1 comment:

  1. Wayne,
    Here’s my take on the review. For the record I have ordered the book and I can give a more appropriate opinion once I read it and have a chance to digest it. What we must remember here is that this is a summary of the book and not the actual book itself so some of the flaws that you found might be the authors words and not the writers words. ( I hope this makes sense).

    I think I took a different view of the book based on what the author had to say. I know you dislike hand waving when it comes to the issues, but that hand waving turned into something far more substantial. One of the points you take most umbrage with is the issue of Soviet era adventurism in the Middle East, as if we did no do the same thing under a different name. At heat is exactly what the original author is getting at, clearly he speaks of the West as needing to develop a foreign policy to protect U.S. and European interests in oil and shipping in the Middle East. This in my opinion is an unabashed claim as to why we have such an interest in the region – oil! While he doesn't call our activities adventurism, as he labelled the Soviets, there is an acknowledgement there, although unspoken, that we like the soviets had our own agenda in the issue.

    As far as the use of tribalism and other names for the quaint localities in the Middle East, again rather than using this in a derogatory manner, he uses these terms as a means of reflecting the West’s complete inability to understand Islamic nations on both the big picture issues as well as at the small intertribal and even familial level. More to the point this misunderstanding has lead the West to the creation of failed and failing Middle East policies for the last century. Acknowledging that this failure to understand has led to poor relations with Iran, the formation of ISIS, global jihadist, and the radicalization of certain sects of Islam. Fundamentally, the failure of the West to understand Islamic nations has lead us to believe that they want the same things that we want, which the author says is a mistake. The West has had capitalism at its heart for hundreds of years, while Islamic nations tend to function more along the lines of Marxist socialism. Further, in thinking they want what we want, the imperial powers ie., the West, starting with Britain’s “schoolgirl romantic ideas of Arabia”, have tried to instill western style democracy and arbitrary political borders that don't take in to account for tribal, familial, and religiously sectarian lines.

    Continuing, he also acknowledges the West’s major problem beyond government and economics is in understanding the overwhelming power that religion has on both the political and economic landscape of Islamic nations.

    Here’ s where I foresee the great problem you might have with the book / review, he also highlights the fallacy that we have nothing to fear from Islam, since it is a faith of nonviolence. That the radicals are not really Islamic, rather they have prevented the view of Islam. Again, he calls this a fallacy. Continuing to think along these lines will further cause us to create failed policies towards the region. This is like saying that Christianity is the religion of peace and nonviolence just after having launched 7 crusades. At the heart of both there is the idea of peace, but the danger here is not calling a spade a spade. There are members of Islam that believe that those working peacefully with the west are not true Muslims, and they are violent. They are Islamic, just in the same way that the Christian that calls for the crusade is still a Christian. The thing to remember is they do not represent all of Islam or all of Christianity, but they are still members of both.

    In the end, I thought it was an insightful review, again I'll get back to you when I have digested the book, and it placed a lot of the blame on the western world’s failure to see Islam and the Islamic world as it is, rather than how we want it to be.