Saturday, December 09, 2006

Visions of a Europe-like region --dashed!

The mouthpiece of the US political Establishment 'Foreign Policy' has an interesting article by Richard N. Hass. Surprisingly, he manages to sum a remarkably clear picture of what is happening in the Middle East, i.e. the decline of US hegemony and the start of something new. What isn't different is the lexicology he is relying on.

"Just over two centuries since Napoleon's arrival in Egypt heralded the advent of the modern Middle East -- some 80 years after the demise of the Ottoman Empire, 50 years after the end of colonialism, and less than 20 years after the end of the Cold War -- the American era in the Middle East, the fourth in the region's modern history, has ended. Visions of a new, Europe-like region -- peaceful, prosperous, democratic -- will not be realized. Much more likely is the emergence of a new Middle East that will cause great harm to itself, the United States, and the world."

From the introduction, he believes that Napoleon's 'arrival' read 'invasion' of Egypt heralded the 'modern Middle East' ie. Western influenced. Napoleon also 'arrived in Moscow and most of Europe and was planning to eventually 'arrive' in London. Of course Mr Hass would have used very different language referring to Napoleon's other conquests and campaigns.

The next claim he makes is even more worrying, "Visions of a new, Europe-like region--peaceful, prosperous, democratic, -- will not be realised.", it will likely cause, "..great harm to itself, the United States, and the world.". On the one hand we must remember, it is the West and 'modernity' that split up the Middle East; supports some of it's most 'moderate' leaders such as in Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia; has attempted to install 'democracy' in Iraq and now in Lebanon and finally, most unforgivably, helped directly and indirectly in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians while arming and funding Jewish settlers. The result - what Maxime Rodinson called, 'a colonial state', similar to Apartheid South Africa.

On the other hand, one can say Mr Hass' statement is true; a Europe-like region --albeit without Arabs, Muslims or their meddlesome culture-- will not be realised. Far from causing harm to themselves and others, a strong independent Middle East will probably only hurt the pockets of some very rich people in the West and the 'elites' of the 'old' modern Middle East.

So long and thanks for all the fish!!

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