Barbarians At the Gates
From the very beginning, the American crusade of surge and siege – with much of it predating the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq; think to early 20th century agreements with Saudi royalty of protection for petroleum, or the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected nationalist leader, or CIA coups and installing of tyranny, or support for Saddam, or provocations of war, or fanning the flames of violence, or importation of billions worth of weapons – has been a catastrophe for the people of the Middle East. For years the United States has guided policy and fates in the region, with its unchallenged domination of and immoral support in the regimes of the Middle East causing a complete devolution of a dynamic, intelligent and proud amalgam of peoples, continuing a stagnation of a civilization that has given humanity so much, and which has so much yet to offer.
It has been the support of tyrants, dictators, generals, kings, princes and sheiks which has had the most profound effect in the lives of tens of millions of Arabs and Muslims, altering, perhaps indefinitely, the very foundations of a culture, and religion, that has for centuries been bombarded by the Judeo-Christian values of the western world. From Napoleon to Hitler, from the British Empire of old to the American Empire of today, from French domination of the Levant to the ceaseless criminality of Little Sparta in Palestine, the Middle East has been invaded, colonized, raped, pillaged, oppressed and exploited by western powers for decades.
It has been divided and torn apart according to the desires of colonial powers; it has been invaded countless times by Christian Crusaders seeking some combination of god and glory, power and control, hegemony and imperialism. Throughout European, and later American, interventions in the region, countless numbers of Arabs and Muslims suffered and died. It has been the west, and not the peoples of the Middle East, that have for centuries been the aggressors, the barbarians at the gates of Muslim cities, those doing the invading and occupying, those raping and pillaging, those with the messianic delusion to convert and civilize and control the Arab world.
It has been the west that thinks itself the superior race, thinking Middle Easterners inferior, sub-human heathens. It has been the west that ignores the plight of the dehumanized and the oppressed, all the while enjoying the spoils of plunder, over time becoming morbidly obese with the gluttony and greed cheap oil engenders.
The people of the Middle East were not, after all, the ones responsible for the Napoleonic Wars, nor the creators of two World Wars, nor the destroyers of entire cities, nor the barbarians giving rise to Holocausts, or thousand year old persecutions, nor the ones responsible for the death of tens of millions of human beings during the 20th century. The people of the Middle East were not planting puppet regimes throughout Europe and the Americas, nor were they wishing to convert, civilize and control the western world. They are not the ones in pursuit of imperialism and hegemony.
They were not bombing and killing and seeking vengeance outside their region until after the Second World War, after America, with help from her allies, decided the Middle East was to become part of its sphere of influence. Indeed, for centuries living in peace and respect, in the same lands, cities and neighborhoods, Arabs of Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith have long maintained a balance of tolerance between Muslim majority and Jewish, Christian minorities that has only been disrupted with the arrival, and the manipulations and gross injustice, of the western colonial powers.
For decades preferring to control the region by proxy, in a clandestine manipulation of populations and territory, the United States has become a catastrophe upon the peoples of the Middle East. Its vast assortment of puppets and castrated proctors have proceeded to decimate the lives and futures of millions, over the years maintaining a firm grip over nations through the devastation of freedoms and liberties and rights, along with the implementation of authoritarian and despotic policies. Unwavering in its support of these tyrants, America has condemned millions to the brutality of dictatorships, to the censorship by despots, to the corruption of incompetents, to the regressive policies of control, to the backwardness of monarchs.
Possessing the largest, most plentiful and best developed oil fields known to man, one would be inclined to believe the Middle East a bastion of equality and justice, with standards of living equal to or surpassing those of the industrialized world. We would expect a thriving democracy pregnant with the freedoms and liberties inherent in wealthy nations. We would also expect, as we do with rich European and American nations, that the countries of the Middle East would possess a high degree of education among its population, allowing for rule of law and foundations of secularism to prevail. We would expect a thriving middle class, with employment at levels supportive of such dynamics. We would expect peace and balance.
Instead, in the land of black gold there exists not a shred of democracy, nor an ounce of freedom and liberties, nor an appearance by redistribution of oil wealth. In the lands where humankind first developed civilization, Machiavellian authoritarians rule, police states flourish, and backwardness prevails. Here, where a few elite are reaping the bountiful rewards of having oil below their feet, or having the lands deemed strategic to the Empire, accumulating millions and billions of dollars in profit, building majestic palaces and living the lives of gods, the vast majority struggle to survive and make a decent living. Here, in the land of kingdoms and fiefdoms and gold-plated palaces, the majority of Arabs and Muslims live in indigence, finding work only as the serfs enabling their Arab lords to live in luxury. Millions manage to survive only because their masters throw a few insignificant crumbs and bones their way, a minute sum of the enormous oil and gas windfall they greedily ensnare for themselves.
While millions subsist on meager jobs, millions more struggle to find meaningful employment. Unemployment in the region is therefore high, with military-age males the hardest hit. Without employment there is no source of income to survive; there is no morale to feel proud of; there is no sign of opportunity, no sign of a future. With an education that is insignificant, for that is how kings and dictators want it, millions have no option but to become easy targets to the propaganda and the manipulations of their lords.
Indeed, in order to better control the population, education has become a tool of indoctrination, with millions of dollars invested by the elite into religious institutions that brainwash and mold vulnerable minds to the fantasy of theology and the backwardness of extremist ideology. Subsidized and sponsored by the same kings and tyrants, these schools, rather than move society forward towards progressive goals, instead succeed in devolving into backwardness and fundamentalism. Many Muslims simply have no choice but to attend these schools, for oftentimes they are the only schools around, in the process helping indigent families cope with the realities of daily life.
So long as ignorance prevails, and as long as knowledge and leanings of modernity are sequestered and mired in the inescapable grip of poverty, the Middle East’s despotic leaders will remain secure and without fear of their own people. So long as their people are not educated to the methodical condemnation of their lives by kings and despots, leaders will reign, sitting on the thrones of gold, feasting on the spoils thrown at them by the Empire. This reality the Empire tolerates and even encourages, for a controlled, undereducated and powerless people are more likely to remain compliant and passive than those who see with open eyes the pillage of their land and the injustice of their leaders.
Unfortunately, this phenomenon of fundamentalist religious indoctrination, together with lack of education and feelings of injustice, oppression and inequality lends itself to the fomentation of extremism, just as it does in any culture, especially a form of extremism which lashes out both at domestic despotism and foreign control and support of that same despotic rule. Using fundamentalist theology to manipulate desperate minds experiencing desolate, unfulfilled lives, radical men of Islamic faith reach out to the many whose lives have been castrated by leaders supported by the Empire.
Radicalism in the Middle East, born of frustration, oppression and lack of opportunity, growing due to inequality, unfairness, injustice and persecution, nurtured by a corrupted and hijacked interpretation of modern Islamic faith, and manifesting itself through violent acts of terrorism, is a symptom of the disease called market colonialism, of an imperialism that cares nothing for people living in misery and perpetual suffering, where the west props up and supports and finances its cadre of despots and tyrants in the region, with their full array of crimes against humanity being protected by the Empire itself, at the expense of the native populations, in order to control the region’s, and the world’s, most valuable resource. Turning to Islamic extremism, then, is a symptom of anger, of hopelessness, of the presence of the Empire itself.
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