Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Process of Middle East Liberty

Liberty. 

Do the countries of the Middle East deserve social, economic and political liberty?

Should their paths be determined by accident and force or reflection and choice?

The United States and Western powers have ruled over the Middle East since WWI.  It can be said that Western Powers have been manipulating the ME since WWI.  Now, it is a normal course for politicians (power) to manipulate others to their own advantage, but what is so wrong about Western control of the ME is the deception under the guise of liberty and the force by which the ME has been suppressed.

In WWI, Britain gained Arab allies by promising independence to the Arab States of Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula.

However, this promise was usurped by the Skyes/Picot Agreement, which cut Arab territory into pieces for Britain, France and Russia.

Liberty denied.  Liberty stolen.

...and only a year later, in 1917, Britain is party to the Balfour Declaration.  An agreement in which Britain assures help for the Jewish Zionists of the World Zionist Congress to

"view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

So, what has happened here?  All in the game of Risk, boys and girls, all in the name of risk.

Britain promised independence for Arabs in Palestine, in exchange for soldiers, while
Britain promised independence to a burgeoning political group, the Zionist Congress, on Palestinian land, also in exchange for military support in WWI. 

Who got the land?  Britain!
Britain wins.    ....but....what have they won?

Soldiers/Influence in the War. 

The Suez Canal
- good for faster, secured trade to India
-a new front on which to prepare for war with Russia

Control over OIL!!! and oil trade routes.

And remember we are great political allies with our old colonial master, Britain- the US has interest here.

(In 1917, Britain said to Iraqis (as the bombed the heck out of them), "Our armies do not come into your cities and lands as conquerors or enemies, but as liberators." This was 1917, not Sept. 14, 2003, when Cheney made the same statement on Meet the Press.)

Egads! All this history!  Just a bit more:

So, the Arab League was formed after WWII, as Arab States gained independence.  The League included the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) an official representative body of Palestinians.

While Britain and Western allies were pillaging for oil, soldiers and trade routes, Palestinians were being inundated by the Zionist Jewish group (all part of the course of politics), but then, internationally de-legitimized when with UN Resolution 181, which created the Jewish State of Israel, against the wishes of the Arab League. 

Further, The United States intervened in the affairs of the Arab League, pressuring states such as Egypt, Syria and Jordan to act in the interests of Israel and the US against the interest of Palestine's legitimate representative organization, the PLO, (which later spawned Hamas); and also Hizbollah, an Arab faction of Lebanon aggressed by Israel. 

Now, now.  I am not, in this historical perspective, blaming Israel, or the Jewish people.  The blame clearly goes to Western powers, who had the political might and the political ideologies of old. 

It is a process.

This is all part of the course of politics (power and the distribution of resources). 

The World has gone through quite a transition in the past 100 years.  Nation States are new.  It takes a long time for systems to change, from Imperialism and Colonialism to the ideas of self-determination, independence, freedom and liberty.

This all started with a game of Risk, political players were playing for new territory, trade routes and oil...what are we playing for now?

International law concerning Nation States prohibits the taking of territory as a spoil of war.
We have alternative sources of energy (though some corporate oil players will not like the transition).
We are not limited in trade routes.
Our military and allies are the strongest in the world.  

So, why did we go into Iraq in 2003?  Oh, yeah, WMD's. 

NOT.

I honestly don't know why we went into Iraq in 2003, but we should be asking the question of Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney.  Though it may be linked to the PNAC's Strategy for Securing the Realm.
The PNAC was a neo-conservative (or neo-liberal if you are outside the U.S.) think tank that created white papers like the one above.  The Strategy for Securing the Realm called for destabilizing the Middle East as a way to provide security for Israel.

(see my post on American Exceptionalism)

Why should we go into Iraq now? and what can we do about the festering wounds we have inflicted in the ME?

According to Shimon Peres, Israel's oldest living and most honored President, we should not go back into Iraq.  He says,
"This is a Muslim and Arab problem and they have to deal with it. I think the best and the right way is to tell the Arab world ... gentlemen, it is your problem and you must find a solution. American soldiers cannot settle a religious problem that is basically Muslim."
Peres also said that he believes ISIS, the new terrorist threat taking over Iraq, can be a unifying force in the ME, that ISIS is a threat to all nations and that the danger may be an opportunity to come together.   I find this a bit twisted, considering that ISIS is just another in a long line of militants looking, in part, for justice for Palestine.

Considering the history of the ME, there are sure to be other Arab members who are frustrated with their inability to gain autonomy and power without the interference of the United States and Western powers.

The threat from those who have been suppressed, dehumanized, hopeless and de-legitimized will endure until they are able to have a sense of social, economic and political liberty and believe that they are part of a just system.
 
Peres also said that the Middle East is falling apart, one Nation after another.  He doesn't see Iraq remaining as one State. Senator Joe Manchin, of the Armed Services Committee echoed Peres' opinion yesterday on Face the Nation, saying we should not go back into Iraq and that the borders will probably be redrawn.
 This makes sense to me.  Many of the arbitrary borders drawn after the World Wars have caused further civil wars and international law does not provide solid ground for self-determination.  (Update:  Kurds seek a Kurdish State, independent of Iraq "Iraq has left us, we have found no partner (with the Iraq gov't.)". - PBS Newshour interview July2, 2014 )

While self-determination is a principal of international law, so is uti possidetis juris, which favors stability of Nation's borders.  The two laws contradict each other, and hence, can suppress self-determination, as Western allies determined in the case of Ukraine and Crimea.

I think the US has a big responsibility for the crisis in the ME.  Our ME policies have created terrorists, and in the case of Iraq now, as a consequence of our lawless 2003 invasion, we are obligated to provide assistance.  What sort of assistance and how is a tough problem to address.

Who exactly is ISIS and how have they gained so much power so fast?

One thing is certain, we cannot be successful with military assistance alone.  This is a problem, because, as I outlined in the last post The Process of Liberty, we do not have the skills or authority to go into a young, failing, democracy and give any hope!  Ours is falling apart too!  We have not been vigilant in maintaining Public Virtue.

If we cannot support our democracy at home, how can we guide others in the creation of theirs?  If we cannot bridge the factions in our own country between Republicans and Democrats, how can we be an example for the Sunni, Shiite and Kurds?

We cannot!!

The solution is to- right now- start the process of re-invigorating Public Virtue in the United States.  If we can publicly, overtly, shine the light on those who are doing good, who are getting work done, who are compromising, acting out of courtesy, respect and responsibility toward the common good...

if we can lift them up out of our masses, encourage them and make an example of them for ourselves, maybe we can fix our problems, and in the process become an example again for what freedom means- what liberty means. 

We can do this in the ME too.  There are people, like Peres, in Israel, who want justice for Palestine.  There are Israeli and Palestinian voices who want a two state solution.

There are good leaders in Iraq, who want to make things work, who are interested in public good.  Let us find them and highlight them more than the violence.  Let's lift them up out of the masses, out of the fighting and laud them. 

Easier than political leaders, though, is simply fessing up to our dysfunctional world history, and highlighting the positive contributions the ME has made and is making to the world.  The ME is where civilization started: agriculture, math, writing, art, engineering!  The positives are out there, and the more we focus on that, the further we will get on a positive path. 

We need to find the heroes...
the good people who have the seeds of Public Virtue and exemplify them as our leaders. 

Discourage haters and perpetrators of controversy, lies and violence.  We can do this from our neighborhoods to the international community.

Community, National and International Public Virtue is the magic for the success of liberty for the USA and for the ME.

Can we believe that the ME deserves its own process and attainment of liberty?
Do we believe that we can re-stabilize our own country?

Today and everyday, look for the heroes, find them, encourage them, laud them, follow them. #fame them

#Shame the negative, gossip, hate and discrimination- discourage it.

A brighter future is simple, from the ground up, raise the good and leave the bad behind.

Michael Gerson ended Face the Nation yesterday stating that we have no analogy for the partisanship in congress today- with red districts getting redder and blue getting blue-er- there is no incentive to compromise.  He said,
"It is astounding that people 50 years ago basically did the right thing for the right reason and some sort of common decency and common sense prevailed."

Bob Shieffer asked Peggy Noonan,
"Will we ever see that day again?"

Echoing Gerson's comments about the Civil Rights era from earlier in the show-
"Just because it seems impossible, does not mean that it is impossible."

Make a great day!

-Kathryn 

Further reading:

My former posts on the ME

Middle East Timeline (PBS) 
Timeline of Colonialism in Iraq
UN Resolutions concerning Israel and Palestine
Letter to America from Osama Bin Laden  (notice the theocratic language, does it remind us of the Christian Right in America today?)
View of Israeli Peace Activist Mike Peled and his video


Next Week:  American Exceptionalism