Hey guys, before the next war…: Please read some history
If the war in Iraq has proved one thing—other than how proficient we are at killing people and ravaging a country— it is that our war planners know little or nothing about the enemy we are fighting. Especially his history and how it impacts his present attitudes and actions.
If we continue to go to war with people we know nothing about, we’ll lose every time. Almost guaranteed.
The following observation taken, from a savvy and informative article, “The Revolt of Islam” by Bernard Lewis, sets the stage for an explanation of what we’re up against in fighting Middle East wars.
And we better paste this in our hat before we start shooting at anybody else over there. “In the Western world, the basic unit of human organization is the nation, which is then subdivided in various ways, one of which is by religion. Muslims, however, tend to see, not a nation subdivided into religious groups, but a religion subdivided into nations.”
Got that? Here it is again, in a different way: America is a nation subdivided in many ways, including religions-Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, et al. Muslims, however, see things the opposite way: their religion (Islam) is subdivided into nations, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, et al.
Thus, if we are determined to fight “terrorism” all over the world, and if we equate terrorism with Islam, we better be prepared to fight wars for a long, long time, because the Middle East, for all practical purposes, IS Islam.
To more fully understand this strange (for us) attachment that Muslims have to Islam, and how this affects the difference in history (hence, mind-sets) between the Eastern and Western cultures, think about what caliph Omar, successor to Prophet Mohammed, said when speaking to his Arab flock: “Learn your genealogies. Do not be like the local peasants who, when they are asked who they are, reply: ‘I am from such-and-such a place,’ ”
Arabs simply do not think in terms of ethnic and territorial identity.
It is difficult to believe that Washington’s foreign policymakers don’t know this. Yet, our precipitous attack on Iraq, our “axis of evil” rhetoric, and other political and military entanglements in this historically volatile area have all the earmarks of an administration with its head in the sand.
With the possibility that this is where their heads are stuck, perhaps a short history of our “enemy” will be gratefully, if begrudgingly, accepted by our war makers in White House.
Most of the nation-states in the Middle East are fairly new creations, leftovers from the Anglo-French domination that followed the defeat of the Ottoman empire in 1918. It was literally a “nation-building” transition from their former imperial masters.
Here, we once again call upon Mr. Lewis.
“In the early centuries of the Muslim era, the Islamic community was one state under one ruler. Even after the communities split up into many states, the idea of a single Islamic polity persisted.
“But until the modern period when European concepts and categories became dominant, Islamic commentators almost always referred to their opponents, not in territorial or ethnic terms, but simply as infidels. They never referred to their own side as Arab or Turkish— they identified themselves as Muslims.”
And here’s the troubling part. “In principle, the world was divided into two houses: the House of Islam, with its Muslim government and Muslim laws; and the House of War, which was the rest of the world, ruled by infidels. Between these two “houses” there was to be a perpetual state of war, until the entire world either embraced Islam or submitted to the rule of the Muslim state.”
Most of the so-called infidels never gave the Muslims any trouble. But the exception was the Christians. The Muslims saw Christians as having the same kind of religion as their own (vying for world power) and thus their primary rival in the struggle for world domination—or, as the Muslims would put it, enlightenment.
Although this is only a verbal glance at Islam, Lewis’s full explanation of Islamic history in the Middle East gives us a full front view of how and why we seem to have trouble fingering our enemy. And why we may never be able to say “Mission Accomplished” and have the mission over and done with.
If this administration doesn’t do more Middle East homework, and gets itself further caught up in the distractions of endless oil, democracy for all, installing puppet governments, global policing, greedy hegemony, and being top dog in the new world order, we’re going down.
And even as we’re falling, we’ll still be wondering why.
“Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact.”