# Give credit where credit is due in the Middle East

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In the news today (MSNBC) www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7069491/site/newsweek/page/2/[/URL], and talk in general, how much of current events in the Middle East are a result of circumstance, chain of events, true people power, fear faking, or real results from real foreign policy? Example events: Beginning with 9-11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Egypt, etc. Okay, talk amongst yourselfs...

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I think it may be a combination of all of those. One can not look at that list and state: "Oh, its that one. Thats the main cause of all our problems!"

Everyone is to blame for the events that have transpired in the past year or so. Its not just one person or country.

Morgan Freeman said something like:

"No matter how dirty something gets, you can always clean it up."(I'm pretty sure thats what it is.) In the movie Bruce Almighty. I think about it and I can't help but think of how tru that statement really is.

We all know that there are problems and issues that need to be worked out. Now that we've identified the problem, we need to come to a general concensus on what needs to be done to correct it.

Informal Logic
Chain of events and people power applies to Lebanon. The death of Arafat was the catalyst. Then as stated in the referenced article: "In Lebanon, the Valentine’s Day massacre that killed former prime minister Rafiq Hariri brought on change much faster than anyone ever expected, and Syrian President Bashar Assad has been caught flat-footed by the response." The rest has been people power. Did the elections in Iraq help the people power? Some, even in the Middle East say it is "making the people of other countries jealous." Personally, since I don't believe democracy and elections were the original foreign policy of the U.S., perhaps this can be chalked up to luck.

I don't know very much about what's happening in Lebanon, haven't had enough time to really look...could someone give me a brief synopsis of current goings on?

russ_watters
Mentor
It certainly is a complicated combination of events: 9/11, Bush's unpredictibility, the ill-concieved Lebanese asssasination, and Arafat's death are probably the most important influences.

miskitty, a couple of weeks ago, an extremely popular, anti-Syria former Prime minister (?) was assasinated. People (Lebanon and the US, among others) have said that it was probably a Syrian organization that did it, though not much evidence has actually come out. The response of the citizens of Lebanon has been dramatic: demonstrations and demands that Syria leave Lebanon and that their own pro-Syria government resign. The government has resigned and Syria is talking about pulling out. Its a huge deal for Mideast peace - Israel's occupations get most of the press these days, but Syria's occupation of Lebanon is nearly as big a source of tension there (it was bigger in the 80s).

Oh, wow. I had hear about someone being assasinated, but never who it was. I hope we don't get involved with whats happening there. The last thing I want is another war being started.

What was Syria doing in Lebanon anyway? What business do they have there?

Gold Member
misskitty said:
What was Syria doing in Lebanon anyway? What business do they have there?
The old philosophy of "sphere of influence" I suppose? In reference to the original thread, perhaps the future might be added to analysis of the past. Iran has been ripe for revolution by "people power" for a long time. These sudden changes in events are incredible, and I'm wondering how the U.S. may proceed (this time with a real and meaningful foreign policy), especially with regard to such countries as Iran...and I guess not to mention Syria...?

I want to make sure I have this right....are we waiting for new civil wars to break out in the Middle East?

Informal Logic
From another recent MSNBC news report: "It’s too soon to know whether recent events there represent a real – or false – dawn of peace and democracy in a region that hasn’t known either

Like backgammon players in a bazaar, Middle East leaders are shuttling pieces around the geopolitical board with cunning dexterity, all in response to Bush’s response to 9/11. Transforming the region wasn’t the stated intent of the American-led invasion of Iraq; it was supposed to be about WMD and Al Qaeda. But it’s difficult to argue that there isn’t a causal connection between the upbeat news and the president’s insistence on what amounted to a military takeover of most of the Arabic-speaking world."

Sounds like a little fear faking?

It does sound like fear-faking to a degree. Then again we can say the same thing about the U.S.'s fear of communism. I have difficulty believing that was just about fear of the spread of communism. I think one of the issues is we want everyone to be just like us with everything. Yet at the same time we celebrate diversity and individualism, it seems hypocritical.

I don't disagree with the war, I disagree with the timing and the stated purpose. I think the actual truthful reason for the war should have been cited instead of a few "attempt to make everybody ok with it" reasons and the timing could have been better.

Staff Emeritus
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miskitty said:
I think one of the issues is we want everyone to be just like us with everything. Yet at the same time we celebrate diversity and individualism, it seems hypocritical.
My family moved to Indiana when I was a teenager. They advertise "Hoosier Hospitality". I used to say it meant if you were a standard hoosier they'd be hospitable. If you deviated in any way, they didn't want to know you. I don't think red state mentality has improved much since then.

I know what you mean. The same thing happened to me when my family moved to the countryside. Culture shock from the city. If you didn't look, think, or act jsut like everybody else then you didn't have any business being here.

However, people who move to the U.S. are still encouraged to keep their traditions and identities and celebrate their uniquness. However, when someone who follows the Islamic traditions moves in all of a sudden, peoples' minds change and they become hypocritical.

I don't agree nor do I condon such atroshous thinking. People have a right to be themselves no matter what part of the world they live in. Whether it be the United States, the Middle East, or the European countryside. It doesn't matter. People have the right to express themselves and their individuality no matter where in the world they live.

loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
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SOS2008 said:
The old philosophy of "sphere of influence" I suppose? In reference to the original thread, perhaps the future might be added to analysis of the past. Iran has been ripe for revolution by "people power" for a long time. These sudden changes in events are incredible, and I'm wondering how the U.S. may proceed (this time with a real and meaningful foreign policy), especially with regard to such countries as Iran...and I guess not to mention Syria...?
Believe it or not, whether this was the stated mission of the US in going into Iraq, it was certainly a motivating factor. Intelligence testimony given before the House about three months before the war was launched indicated that several nations, Iran foremost among them, were ripe for popular revolution and that deposing Saddam could help do the trick. But that really isn't a very compelling reason to go to the people with, so Bush focused on WMDs and connections to Al Qaeda that likely never existed. Dumb luck? Or is the least articulate president since Harding not as stupid as he looks and acts?

Gold Member
loseyourname said:
Bush focused on WMDs and connections to Al Qaeda that likely never existed.
As Rice stated in her nomination hearings: "The ends justify the means." Do you feel falsification of intelligence is acceptable as long as Iraq becomes a democracy? And what if Iraq becomes an Islamic Republic?
loseyourname said:
Dumb luck?
There was nothing good about 9-11, but I doubt Bush would have been re-elected if this tragic event did not occur, and more importantly that we were in the middle of a war during the election--a war that he started with 9-11 as the impetus.
loseyourname said:
Or is the least articulate president since Harding not as stupid as he looks and acts?
This is an on-going debate in other threads. I think his poor college grades and lack of speaking skills reflect the truth, as well as his simplistic, black-and-white view of everything.

In the meantime, Bush has ignored the Palestinian/Israeli conflict as the root of terrorism. When Arafat died, suddenly the focus went back to this issue. Likewise Bush has dissed Iran until more recent turn of events. "Friendly" countries of the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt continue a more favorable view, though they aren't really any more democratic than Syria or Iran. Not much of a foreign policy to take credit for if you ask me.

As stated, recent events have happened so rapidly, it will be interesting how the U.S. will proceed, particularly with regard to Iran and Syria. Maybe foreign policy can't be pretended so easily now...?

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I can agree with Bush not being hte most intelligent leader the United States has ever had. However, he has not had the easiest presidency either. Looking back on the events which transpired after 9-11, I can't really see any better way to have handled the situation. Again I'm not agreeing with the cited reasons or timing of the war. I'm not completely against it either.

In responce to Bush's black and white view on life, yes it does seem primitive. Perhaps that is the only way that Bush can effectively deal with the situation. Again he isn't the most brilliant leader we've ever had...but iti s probably easier for him to view the world on a simpler canvas. It might not be the wisest. Its the all we've got right now.

Gold Member
misskitty said:
However, he has not had the easiest presidency either.
True. I can't imagine anyone wanting to be president when something like 9-11 happens. However, I think any president would have stepped up to the plate under such circumstances--what president wouldn't?

The question posed here is what is the U.S. foreign policy? Is it a war on terrorism via preemptive invasion of non-democratic states to achieve freedom and peace? The U.S. foreign policy seems to change daily (or at least the propaganda changes daily). Has there been any real plan for anything (e.g., an exit strategy from the wars we are already in), or has everything just been circumstance?

BTW - You've mentioned people close to you are fighting in the war. This discussion is not meant to diminish the sacrifice they and others make for our country.

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loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
SOS2008 said:
As Rice stated in her nomination hearings: "The ends justify the means." Do you feel falsification of intelligence is acceptable as long as Iraq becomes a democracy? And what if Iraq becomes an Islamic Republic?
As long as Iraq becomes a peaceful nation that doesn't terrorize its own people, it'll be hard not to look back and say the war was worth it. The way history views it will really depend on many different things. If several nations actually democratize, it will certainly look good, but even then it's hard to say that war was the only means by which such an end could be achieved. I agree with Rice to a certain extent. To achieve great things, risks have to be taken, and risk-taking is not something that either Congress or the American electorate is known for. Of course, the ends only justify the means if the ends are realized. That is still very far from happening.

Gold Member
Some excerpts from a couple of recent MSNBC/Newsweek articles by Fareed Zakaria:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6999829/site/newsweek/page/2/ [Broken]
Feb. 28 issue -
Standing Up for People Power

“America, too, needs to understand better people power. President Bush is on a kiss-and-make-up trip to Europe, following Condoleezza Rice's highly successful tour. He wants cooperation on Syria, Iran and many other issues. But the U.S. confronts a real problem, made much, much worse by four years of utterly insensitive American diplomacy. Policy elites may make up with us, but the public has not. Polls taken over the last month show that throughout Europe—from Britain to Poland—people are blisteringly critical of U.S. foreign policy, America's role in the world and George W. Bush. This pervasive anger and distrust limits how actively and publicly countries can support American initiatives and efforts. For every European leader, allying with Bush has costs domestically. If Bush wants to get Europe's help, he needs to talk not just to its rulers but to its people.”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7103517/site/newsweek/?GT1=6305 [Broken]
March 14 issue -
What Bush Got Right

And now if he can get the little stuff right...

The Middle East would do well with incremental but persistent reform, as is taking place in Jordan, Qatar and Dubai. But in too many places, small, gradual reforms have been a smoke screen for doing nothing. Economic reforms are the most crucial because they modernize the whole society. But they are also the most difficult because they threaten the power and wealth of the oligarchies that run these countries. So far there has been more talk than action on this front.

Every country, culture and people yearns for freedom. But building real, sustainable democracy with rights and protections is complex. In Lebanon, for example, the absence of Syria will not mean the presence of a stable democracy. It was the collapse of Lebanon's internal political order that triggered the Syrian intervention in 1976. That problem will have to be solved, even after Syrian forces go home. In Iraq, the end of the old order has produced growing tendencies toward separatism and intolerance. Building democracy takes patience, deep and specific knowledge and, most important, the ability to partner with the locals.

If Bush is to be credited for the benefits of his policies, he must also take responsibility for their costs. Over the past three years, his administration has racked up enormous costs, many of which could easily have been lowered or avoided altogether. The pointless snubbing of allies, the brusque manner in which it went to war in Iraq, the undermanned occupation and the stubborn insistence (until last summer) on pursuing policies that were fueling both an insurgency and anti-Americanism in Iraq—all have taken their toll in thousands of American and Iraqi lives and almost $300 billion. Last edited by a moderator: SOS2008 said: If Bush is to be credited for the benefits of his policies, he must also take responsibility for their costs. Over the past three years, his administration has racked up enormous costs, many of which could easily have been lowered or avoided altogether. The pointless snubbing of allies, the brusque manner in which it went to war in Iraq, the undermanned occupation and the stubborn insistence (until last summer) on pursuing policies that were fueling both an insurgency and anti-Americanism in Iraq—all have taken their toll in thousands of American and Iraqi lives and almost$300 billion.

WWII was fought imperfectly, at great cost.

Suppose the Pacific Theatre could have ended a year sooner; how many Japanese and American lives would have been saved?

Well, why was there no northern campaign to bomb Japan from Russian island chains, bases out of reach of the Japanese military from which we could have reached Japan a year sooner with our bombers? Why was there a much longer southern pacific campaign?

What if we had concentrated on the single point of failure German oil industry in Romania sooner, and more effectively?

What if the ten times more effective Mosquito had been produced in greater quantities? It carried half the bomb load, with a crew of 2 instead of 7, but was ten times as effective at hitting the target, with ten times the survival rate as a B17. After the War, German war planners admitted that was one of the things they feared, that the allied production of the Mosquito would increase, and the war would have been lost much sooner.

These are just a few of the often talked about Monday Morning Quarterback 'Allied mistakes' of WWII.

Deadly costly mistakes were made in the waging of WWII, and many millions more died because of those costly mistakes.

American soldiers commited atrocities during the waging of WWII, over 50 American courts-martial.

And still, we refer to the generation that made those mistakes and committed those atrocities as The Greatest Generation. There is no hue and cry to default on the victories in either theatre, and nobody wishes that we had pulled out early when all these deadly costly mistakes were made.

WWII, like every human endeavour, was waged imperfectly.

But, thankfully to an entire generation, it was waged, even if we all wish it never had to have been.

BobG
Homework Helper
Zlex said:
WWII was fought imperfectly, at great cost.

Suppose the Pacific Theatre could have ended a year sooner; how many Japanese and American lives would have been saved?

Well, why was there no northern campaign to bomb Japan from Russian island chains, bases out of reach of the Japanese military from which we could have reached Japan a year sooner with our bombers? Why was there a much longer southern pacific campaign?

What if we had concentrated on the single point of failure German oil industry in Romania sooner, and more effectively?
The US and Russia may have been allies, but they weren't friends. The Russians kept the B-29's that made emergency landings there (they inspired a Russian version of bomber with a very similar design) and it was very hard getting the flight crews back. (kind of an interesting story)

The strategic bombing of German industry is probably more relevant to some of today's problems. Bombing infrastructure always has delayed results and it was hard to evaluate how bad the bombing was affecting Germany without good intelligence. The result was too many short duration campaigns, some of which were worthless, some of which would have had a huge impact if carried out in a prolonged campaign.

Bush definitely has visions of making great changes in the world. Rice is correct about having to take some risks to achieve great things. The problem is that I never did see Bush as someone capable of achieving great things and my opinions of Rumsfield, Rice and other Bush staffers have diminished as well (while 'visionary' in a few aspects, Rumsfield generally seems to suffer from tunnel vision and maybe Rice was better academically than in implementing policy).

His administration has generally misread the world situation and mangled and bungled things every step of the way. If we succeed in making some great change, it will be in spite of Bush rather than because of him, even if he was the one who started us down the path. The problem with Bush is that he does things badly, not that he lacks a goal.

Hind-sight is always 20-20. If we spend time argueing about what should have been done instead of forcusing on the mistakes that were made, we will not learn from them and therefore potentially repeat them again.

The question is: Will Bush have enough sense to look back upon what has happened and realize what he should do now without repeating the mistakes he made before? How will Bush make the great changes he wants to make? The administration needs to recognize what the problems are and what to do to correct them. Not run around the world trying to kiss and make up and ignore whats going on.

There is no such thing as an "inexpensive war".

BobG
Homework Helper
misskitty said:
Both Kat and Bob are right. But, this is politics, what can you expect. It's dirty, you have to be willing to get a little muddy. Bob brings up a good point. The Clinton administration was much worse than the Bush administration. Perhaps part of why people think they can blame all of the world's problems on him is because he did what he said he was going to do: Go into Iraq and overthrown Saddam Hussein. He finished what his father said he was going to do. I think the world is still shocked that he actually suceeded.

Actually, Bush's father listened to advice and decided the risks outweighed the benefits.

To say Bush has already succeeded is still a little premature. There's been some positive signs. The ones most likely to stick have been small (Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia). The ones grabbing the headlines (Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel/Palestine) could all go south pretty quickly.

In fact, I'd be shocked if Afghanistan holds its government together. There's too many groups that have been fighting for control of that country for too long. (That doesn't mean invading Afghanistan was wrong. Our goal was bin Laden, not creating a new democracy).

Lebanon is more likely to have Syrian troops replaced by UN troops than become an instant democracy. That would still be an improvement (if they're UN troops and not just US troops). Lebanon is much more likely to develop some kind of stable self-government under UN occupation than an oppressive Syrian occupation.

The Palestine/Israel situation improved just by Arafat's death. I'm not sure the chain of events since 9/11 have had that much impact.

And who knows what's going to develop in Iraq. Anything could still wind up happening. They could be inspiration to democracy or they could still wind up an anarchy like Afghanistan has been for so many years or wind up just about anywhere in between - religous theocracy allied with Iran, broken up into two or three smaller countries constantly fighting over their oil fields. If we wind up with stability, that would be good. Not worth the cost of the invasion, maybe, but definitely better than what could happen.

Fair enough. I can agree with that. I meant that he had suceeded in just overthrowing Saddam. You're right with saying that everything else is a bit pe-mature. I should have been more specific. Iraq is a strange animal. That area is intensly unpredictable. All we can do is hope for stablity.

Just thought of this: the Middle East kind of reminds me of a bomb. If something go wrong, that who area could explode with violence: more violent than it already is.