Through Middle East Eyes
In order for the peoples of America and the West to understand what has been and is currently being done to the peoples of the Middle East we must envision ourselves as human beings living and going through life in that most troubled of regions. We must exercise a humanist form of empathy that places us squarely inside the lands of desert and sand, the lands of the people of the Bible, of terrain full of mirages and complexities, of alien and unfamiliar cultures and languages and religions, of a history that predates any western beginning or thought, of a complexity we know almost nothing about.
We must see through the eyes of peoples we do not understand and are completely ignorant of, of peoples we have been conditioned through ceaseless propaganda to disdain and oftentimes hate. We must, in order to see into resurrected Crusades, know the unknown, so that we cease to fear what is foreign and alien. We must contemplate life as it currently exists for the people of the region, not the life we are made to believe in, nor the hazy reality imagined in our minds. For the sake of the millions now dead and dying, for the sake of the dispossessed and the suffering, the maimed and mentally destroyed, we must have an understanding of life in the Middle East, life inside the fires of imperialism.
We must, in order to comprehend the catastrophe befalling the peoples of the Middle East, imagine ourselves as people living under tyranny, under occupation, under oppression and modern day colonialism, in lands where the devil’s excrement abounds, where it makes blind monsters of men, where conflicts are born from the interpretations of fables and mythology, where theological differences succeed in both dividing and conquering, and where western colonialism has and continues to inflict great damage on millions of Arabs and Muslims.
If we are to understand the suffering and oppression of the Arab and Muslim people of the Middle East, we must confront the Empire and its omnipresent grip over the region; a powerful nation with omnipotent control over lands whose resources are needed to run the engines of hegemonic power; a hegemonic Goliath that methodically and calculatedly rules over dozens of little David’s by proxy, intimidation and through puppets. Indeed, to fully understand the 21st century’s version of yesteryear’s crusades, we must journey to the lands where greed and petroleum mix, where neoliberal capitalism and market colonialism fuse, where economic genocide and hegemonic drive intermingle and where the grand pieces of the global chess match collide.
For this present Crusade is not about reclaiming Jerusalem or the Holy Land, or of converting the heathens and barbarians into good Christians. It is not about conquest in the name of a god or a religion, nor a crusade to determine a clash of civilizations. No, this Crusade is about conquering and controlling petroleum, a resource unknown by past Crusaders. This Crusade is about conquering and controlling geostrategic land, about appropriating for the Empire the region’s vast fields of oil and natural gas and the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates.
This Crusade is a neoliberal one, designed to inject American style debauched democracy and corrupt capitalism into the Middle East. This Crusade, this invasion and occupation, this folly into mass murder and mass destruction, this criminal enterprise to appease the gods of greed and of the Almighty Dollar, is an ideological struggle initiated by the masters of neoliberal economics, who, together with those enamored with American Manifest Destiny, have for decades decimated the lives of the people who inhabit this condemned region.
As such, as much as we must see ourselves through Arab and Muslim eyes, we must also look inwards, towards our own selfish way of life, searching our self-centered egos and our ethnocentric bubble of delusion. We must learn to see and accept the role we have in the great damage done in our name. We must learn to understand, and acknowledge, that so much of the Crusade of Surge and Siege is a direct consequence of our gluttony and greed, our insatiable hunger for wealth and materialistic goods, our addictions to comfort and convenience and our complete and utter abandonment of humanist values as death and destruction is rained down on Arab and Muslim peoples.
In many ways, we, with our ever-expanding demands for better and greater standards of living, for more complete comfort and luxury, are the engine that runs the Empire’s economy and thus its power, and that of its rulers. It is the People that give sustenance to the Empire’s actions, and it is us who inevitably depend most on Middle Eastern petroleum. Indeed, every engine needs energy to give it life, to keep it operational, to maintain its many parts in harmony, to make sure of sound performance and of engine health.
This energy, of course, the energy we depend on for the continued survival of our “way of life” and our “values,” -- by which we naturally mean greed, comfort, gluttony and the standard of living no other nation enjoys – the energy that helps guarantee our “democracy and capitalism,” -- by which we mean the exploitation of the people of undeveloped nations and the market colonialism holding them hostage, all to maintain our “way of life” – as well as our addictions of mass consumption and materialism, comes directly from the black gold that permeates beneath the surface of the lands we inhabit, mostly from the nations of the south, whether it is the lands of Arabs or Muslims or Latin Americans or Africans.
The Crusade of Surge and Siege is thus a natural manifestation of our own vices and sins, of our unwillingness to part ways with a life no other people can claim to possess, and which becomes ever harder to simply abandon the longer it lasts and the more it continues to grow. Our gluttony has continued its devastation on the peoples of the region, decade after decade, because those living inside the Empire refuse to part ways with an unsustainable way of life due to an uncontrollable addiction to greed and a plague-like, insatiable appetite for materialistic goods. In the end, while we can feel good by blaming corporations or leaders, it is We the People who ultimately shoulder the blame for an indifference and a gluttony that stoke the flames that grant life to the engine of the Pax Americana.
At the crossroads of humanity, connecting east and west, located in vitally geostrategic positions, the Middle East has long been a prize for any aspiring Empire. Many powers have invaded and occupied these lands and peoples, only to inevitably be violently thrown out over time. History is saturated with the hubris and folly of Empires long since disappeared, whose arrogance and wealth ended up but rotting, decaying carcasses when their adventures with the Middle East came to a less than triumphant conclusion.
The Middle East has always been resistant and hostile to invasion and occupation, with its people using the accumulated wisdom of generations, and that of thousand years old civilizations, together with a silent patience that buys time and studies how best to defeat its enemies, preying on its victim like stealthy lions on a hunt. Over time, these peoples have developed guerilla warfare and the experience of multiple occupations, slowly, and methodically, castrating the invader, one soldier, one supply line at a time. In a region that has seen much suffering, destruction and death, a war of attrition against these peoples cannot be won. Ideas of time, of black and white thinking, of the definition of victory, of analysis and reason, of the necessity for vengeance, of death, and of war and battle are interpreted and seen differently from western views. The failure to understand this reality has ruined the armies of powerful empires.
Many of the now defunct powers, it seems, failed to learn and understand human history, only to repeat the mistakes and the delusions of predecessors. They failed to read between the lines, failing to see a cornucopia of red flags. The region is as dynamic and as complicated as it is tempting, with theology, history, culture, society, territorial claims, commerce, ethnic and tribal affiliations mixing in a cocktail of fiery anger, aggression and turmoil against those powers that have tried to tame such a varied and mysterious land.