VDH On What The Middle East Has Learned

Works and Days: Middle East Madness

Lessons since 9/11

It is difficult in history to find any civilization that asks as much of others as does the contemporary Middle East—and yet so little of itself. If I were to sum up the collective mentality of the current Arab Middle East—predicated almost entirely on the patriarchal sense of lost “honor” and the rational calculation to murder appeasing liberals and appease murdering authoritarians— it would run something like the following:

(1) We will pump oil at $3 and must sell it over $50— and still blame you for stealing our natural treasure

(2) We will damn your culture and politics, but expect our own to immigrate in the thousands to your shores; upon arrival any attempt to integrate Muslim immigrants into Western pluralistic society will be seen as Islamaphobic

(3) Send us your material goods, whether machine tools, I-pods, or antibiotics. We desperately want them, but will neither make the necessary changes in our own statist, authoritarian, religiously intolerant, tribal, and patriarchal culture to allow us to produce them ourselves, nor will show any appreciation for the genius of others who can do what we cannot

(4) We ostensibly wish you to stop the killing of Muslims by ourselves and others—Milosevic murdering Kosovars, Saddam destroying Kuwaitis, Kurds, and Shiites, Russians killing Afghans and Chechnyans—but should you concretely attempt to do so, we will immediately consider your intervention far worse than the mayhem caused by others or ourselves.

It’s the same old, same old. If we act, whatever results is our fault; if we don’t act, it is still our fault. The only thing that is constant is that every bad thing is the fault of the West.

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