Monday, February 27, 2006

Is the middle east still relevant?

Amid the latest bombings in Amman, the civil war in Iraq, the permanent discord in the Israeli/Palestinian dispute and a host of perhaps lesser yet equally and seemlingly solutionless issues, does the middle east have any relevance in the gobal village? Has the daily menu of dead women, children and the elderly simply become as dull to TV and internet audiences as say a soap drama that has run on too long?

George Bush may be accused of many things, but foresight would not be one of them.

He foresaw that he could somehow save the world and enrich his supporters in the oil and gas industry in one move. Now he foresees that he needs to cozy up to the United Arab Emirates for reasons known only to himself' perhaps it is the simple fact that for all the chaos we see in the middle east it is also home to many businessmen who could run circles around any US business on any given day. For a man who acts out with such purpose on our TV monitors every day, it is clear now (to some it has always been clear) that he has no purpose at all. He is of little use to his own nation and is simply an irritation and an embarrasement to those nations who are forced to feign friendship out of legacy to the United States. Americans today must be counting the weeks and days to his departure from public life and the world stage.

Regretably, once he is gone, his own legacy will be that he spent $3 trillion dollars on removing a single man from power, Saddam Hussein. Economists and even humanists may find this price a trifle rich. And for all of that where exactly is Osama Bin Laden holed up. The safety of the six ports that the Dubai-owned company wishes to acquire is safer than congress thinks as it may well be that Bin Laden through the normal mechanisms available to international entrepreneurs, is a shareholder of P&O. Bush is surrounded by men and women who, one would have thought, have been trained to "think things through". While this may work for some, it is of no significance if the boss sees thinking as an impidement to "mission accomplished."

If Bush had been thinking from the outset he would have, for instance, been a promoter of fuel conservation rather than fuel invasion. The question is not; why did the US elect George Bush? The real question is; why did the Republican Party allow Bush the candidacy? Notwithstanding the difficulties the US has as a nation (now so more than ever) how is it that from battalions of highly educated and skilled men and women they cannot find an individual who can lead with confidence, not arrogance, and kindness, not patronage?

The US and Britain, along with a handful of smaller players, has left the middle east in disaray. The sooner they remove themselves from the middle east theater, the sooner calm will return. There can be little sense in fighting when the goal is pride. What would constitute a victory for the coalition? US style democracy? Just how democractic is democracy in the US? Should we believe that life in the US is somehow more enriching and fulfilling than life in say Europe, South America, Australia? What is it that makes regime after regime in the Whitehouse believe that we should all follow their lifestyle? And if Iraq is an example of the price for this privilege, I'd warrant that the price is simply too high.

The middle east is relevant as partner to the west, but it needs space to determine its own future. The lessons of the past have not been learned; Iran, Iraq, Israel, Palestine should never have been influenced by Europe, particularly the British. It is too late for the those who have died over the decades, but it will never be too late for the west to remove itself and its archaic ideas from the middle east.