Pride has so locked us within ourselves that we ask the wrong questions to receive the wrong answers. The truth is that we are interconnected individuals, living in interconnected groups, that are a part of an interconnected species. Yet in spite of this, the only questions we ever ask have to do with our own well-being. Very few of us are concerned with what’s happening to other people, other groups or other species. As a result, each of us live disconnected lives, within warring groups, in a species that has so abused the Earth’s ecosystems to now approach extinction.
What is happening to the United States in the Middle East is a prime example of this. Our foreign policy has been based solely on the advance of our own self-interest in accumulating power, wealth, and oil. We have totally ignored the interconnectedness of nations and lost a worldwide perspective that would give us a foreign policy seeking justice for everyone. We have a dark history of ignoring the needs and interests of the indigenous Arabs in the Middle East (except for the Israelis, most of whom were shipped in from Europe, or came from and studied in the United States).
Before the Second World War, the Middle East was colonized and broken up between the European countries, so the Arab’s interest in self-rule was squashed. With the rise in the value and need for oil, and also the advent of the nation of Israel, things began to change. The 1944 “Anglo-American Petroleum Agreement” divided the lucrative oil in the area between the United States and Great Britain. Though that agreement has been amended over time, our foreign policy has been designed to protect our oil interests, as well as to keep communists out of the area. Obviously the Arab’s nationalistic goals have grown and clashed with these interests.
Our unilateral support of the state of Israel without thought for the Palestinians has certainly fueled a growing contempt in the Middle East for the United States. Thus when a small group of terrorists managed to fly hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and the United States responded by brutally invading two Arab countries (Pakistan, which had nothing to do with it, and Iraq, where oil seems to have been the only logical motivation), the contempt for the U.S. multiplied into hate. It’s clear that as a result of our invasions, the sick mindset of a few terrorists has now grown to become the accepted opinion of a large number of Arabs throughout the area.
Quite recently, a highly educated, radical Muslim named Abu Bakr Al-Bagadi, (who is said to be a descendent of Mohammed) was declared (or declared himself) Calipf of “The Islamic State”, which he says consists now of Iraq and the Levant (which could mean Syria, but also could mean the Eastern Mediterranean). In a July 5th video, he expanded this and said that he was now the world leader of all Muslims and was calling them from around the globe to immigrate and support him in his jihad to convert and control not only the Middle East but the whole world. (He has proved himself to be a master of the Internet in pushing his ideas and recruiting worldwide.) Though proclaimed to be an imposter by most Muslim leaders when he called himself the Calipf of all Islam, people are streaming to him from many countries including Great Britain and America.
It appears that our self-centered foreign policy has now resulted in nothing less than a disaster. I believe that the Obama Administration has recognized our mistakes in the past, and has been trying to get us out of the Middle East. However, the die has been cast. Obama also recognizes that we cannot now respond in the Middle East with military forces on the ground, because that would play right into Al-Bagdati’s hands. Al-Bagdati himself has said that‘s what he’s trying to get us to do, because it will further the sense that we are the invaders, which will bring him even more recruits.
This mess is pushed by violent religious and national extremism. It has a smart, calculating, unfeeling, charismatic leader, who like Napoleon and Hitler, has world domination in mind. We can only hope that the world will find some way to unite and neutralize it. We must find some way to accept and act upon the reality of our interconnectedness, where everything we do affects all others, and everything they do affects us.
The writer lives in Murrells Inlet.