Barbarians At the Gates
From the very beginning, the American crusade of surge and siege – with much of it predating the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq; think to early 20th century agreements with Saudi royalty of protection for petroleum, or the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected nationalist leader, or CIA coups and installing of tyranny, or support for Saddam, or provocations of war, or fanning the flames of violence, or importation of billions worth of weapons – has been a catastrophe for the people of the Middle East. For years the United States has guided policy and fates in the region, with its unchallenged domination of and immoral support in the regimes of the Middle East causing a complete devolution of a dynamic, intelligent and proud amalgam of peoples, continuing a stagnation of a civilization that has given humanity so much, and which has so much yet to offer.
It has been the support of tyrants, dictators, generals, kings, princes and sheiks which has had the most profound effect in the lives of tens of millions of Arabs and Muslims, altering, perhaps indefinitely, the very foundations of a culture, and religion, that has for centuries been bombarded by the Judeo-Christian values of the western world. From Napoleon to Hitler, from the British Empire of old to the American Empire of today, from French domination of the Levant to the ceaseless criminality of Little Sparta in Palestine, the Middle East has been invaded, colonized, raped, pillaged, oppressed and exploited by western powers for decades.
It has been divided and torn apart according to the desires of colonial powers; it has been invaded countless times by Christian Crusaders seeking some combination of god and glory, power and control, hegemony and imperialism. Throughout European, and later American, interventions in the region, countless numbers of Arabs and Muslims suffered and died. It has been the west, and not the peoples of the Middle East, that have for centuries been the aggressors, the barbarians at the gates of Muslim cities, those doing the invading and occupying, those raping and pillaging, those with the messianic delusion to convert and civilize and control the Arab world.
It has been the west that thinks itself the superior race, thinking Middle Easterners inferior, sub-human heathens. It has been the west that ignores the plight of the dehumanized and the oppressed, all the while enjoying the spoils of plunder, over time becoming morbidly obese with the gluttony and greed cheap oil engenders.
The people of the Middle East were not, after all, the ones responsible for the Napoleonic Wars, nor the creators of two World Wars, nor the destroyers of entire cities, nor the barbarians giving rise to Holocausts, or thousand year old persecutions, nor the ones responsible for the death of tens of millions of human beings during the 20th century. The people of the Middle East were not planting puppet regimes throughout Europe and the Americas, nor were they wishing to convert, civilize and control the western world. They are not the ones in pursuit of imperialism and hegemony.
They were not bombing and killing and seeking vengeance outside their region until after the Second World War, after America, with help from her allies, decided the Middle East was to become part of its sphere of influence. Indeed, for centuries living in peace and respect, in the same lands, cities and neighborhoods, Arabs of Muslim, Christian and Jewish faith have long maintained a balance of tolerance between Muslim majority and Jewish, Christian minorities that has only been disrupted with the arrival, and the manipulations and gross injustice, of the western colonial powers.
For decades preferring to control the region by proxy, in a clandestine manipulation of populations and territory, the United States has become a catastrophe upon the peoples of the Middle East. Its vast assortment of puppets and castrated proctors have proceeded to decimate the lives and futures of millions, over the years maintaining a firm grip over nations through the devastation of freedoms and liberties and rights, along with the implementation of authoritarian and despotic policies. Unwavering in its support of these tyrants, America has condemned millions to the brutality of dictatorships, to the censorship by despots, to the corruption of incompetents, to the regressive policies of control, to the backwardness of monarchs.
Possessing the largest, most plentiful and best developed oil fields known to man, one would be inclined to believe the Middle East a bastion of equality and justice, with standards of living equal to or surpassing those of the industrialized world. We would expect a thriving democracy pregnant with the freedoms and liberties inherent in wealthy nations. We would also expect, as we do with rich European and American nations, that the countries of the Middle East would possess a high degree of education among its population, allowing for rule of law and foundations of secularism to prevail. We would expect a thriving middle class, with employment at levels supportive of such dynamics. We would expect peace and balance.
Instead, in the land of black gold there exists not a shred of democracy, nor an ounce of freedom and liberties, nor an appearance by redistribution of oil wealth. In the lands where humankind first developed civilization, Machiavellian authoritarians rule, police states flourish, and backwardness prevails. Here, where a few elite are reaping the bountiful rewards of having oil below their feet, or having the lands deemed strategic to the Empire, accumulating millions and billions of dollars in profit, building majestic palaces and living the lives of gods, the vast majority struggle to survive and make a decent living. Here, in the land of kingdoms and fiefdoms and gold-plated palaces, the majority of Arabs and Muslims live in indigence, finding work only as the serfs enabling their Arab lords to live in luxury. Millions manage to survive only because their masters throw a few insignificant crumbs and bones their way, a minute sum of the enormous oil and gas windfall they greedily ensnare for themselves.
While millions subsist on meager jobs, millions more struggle to find meaningful employment. Unemployment in the region is therefore high, with military-age males the hardest hit. Without employment there is no source of income to survive; there is no morale to feel proud of; there is no sign of opportunity, no sign of a future. With an education that is insignificant, for that is how kings and dictators want it, millions have no option but to become easy targets to the propaganda and the manipulations of their lords.
Indeed, in order to better control the population, education has become a tool of indoctrination, with millions of dollars invested by the elite into religious institutions that brainwash and mold vulnerable minds to the fantasy of theology and the backwardness of extremist ideology. Subsidized and sponsored by the same kings and tyrants, these schools, rather than move society forward towards progressive goals, instead succeed in devolving into backwardness and fundamentalism. Many Muslims simply have no choice but to attend these schools, for oftentimes they are the only schools around, in the process helping indigent families cope with the realities of daily life.
So long as ignorance prevails, and as long as knowledge and leanings of modernity are sequestered and mired in the inescapable grip of poverty, the Middle East’s despotic leaders will remain secure and without fear of their own people. So long as their people are not educated to the methodical condemnation of their lives by kings and despots, leaders will reign, sitting on the thrones of gold, feasting on the spoils thrown at them by the Empire. This reality the Empire tolerates and even encourages, for a controlled, undereducated and powerless people are more likely to remain compliant and passive than those who see with open eyes the pillage of their land and the injustice of their leaders.
Unfortunately, this phenomenon of fundamentalist religious indoctrination, together with lack of education and feelings of injustice, oppression and inequality lends itself to the fomentation of extremism, just as it does in any culture, especially a form of extremism which lashes out both at domestic despotism and foreign control and support of that same despotic rule. Using fundamentalist theology to manipulate desperate minds experiencing desolate, unfulfilled lives, radical men of Islamic faith reach out to the many whose lives have been castrated by leaders supported by the Empire.
Radicalism in the Middle East, born of frustration, oppression and lack of opportunity, growing due to inequality, unfairness, injustice and persecution, nurtured by a corrupted and hijacked interpretation of modern Islamic faith, and manifesting itself through violent acts of terrorism, is a symptom of the disease called market colonialism, of an imperialism that cares nothing for people living in misery and perpetual suffering, where the west props up and supports and finances its cadre of despots and tyrants in the region, with their full array of crimes against humanity being protected by the Empire itself, at the expense of the native populations, in order to control the region’s, and the world’s, most valuable resource. Turning to Islamic extremism, then, is a symptom of anger, of hopelessness, of the presence of the Empire itself.
Islamic fanaticism, like its American, and Christian counterpart, thrives on the disenfranchised, the downtrodden, the ignorant, and in those searching for meaning to lives heavy in suffering and pain. Like all forms of fanaticism, the Islamic variety grows and thrives by listening to the angry and the oppressed, providing answers and solutions that help maintain a semblance of understanding in a cruel world. It is those who have become easily manipulated and easily deceived that fanaticism aims to reach, for in these lost souls new, molded flames can be lit.
Thus, by combining the fanaticism all theologies possess with the living, walking carcasses left behind by America’s propped up tyrants and kings, gorging on the spoils of oil, too greedy to share with their people, together with American interference in the region, a grassroots resistance is birthed that finds solace and solutions in the beliefs of the past, thinking, rightly, that the devastation of their lives is a result of modernity –albeit a debased form of it – and its corruption by authoritarians sponsored by the west.
Deceived by extremism to hate all things western, because the root of their ills is indeed a product of the western world, they fail to see the reality that true fault lies not in western progressiveness, which is humanitarian, communal and universal in nature, but in the despotic character and oppressive policies of leaders that will not free their subjects to the great virtues of real democracy.
Here, America and her puppet allies in the region have made a vital and egregious error, for in inducing high levels of indigence, uneducation and dissatisfaction, in allowing despotism to rule and the voice of the people to disappear, thereby creating a Molotov cocktail of anger and resentment aimed at the Empire and Arab leaders, they have fostered instability and resistance, some in the form of anti-Americanism, some in the form of terrorism, most in the form of a society that grows more eager for change every year. Together with a perception that America has embarked on a Crusade of Surge and Siege against the Muslim world, and that her armies are engaging in mass murder and destruction of Muslim peoples, the only avenue for change is being found inside the mosques of radical ideology.
Instead of giving Middle East populations a larger share of the oil bonanza pie; instead of decreasing the verticality of the hierarchical pyramid, thus making society more just, fair and equal, with better standards of living, better education and more progressiveness; instead of allowing the Empire a just, balanced and reduced access and control to oil; instead of banning the pillage of revenues and resources, where capital benefits only the elite; instead of investing in enlightened education, helping to bring out of darkness millions of minds; instead of using oil revenues and investing in the wellbeing of their people; instead of halting billion dollar purchases in the west’s defense industry, amassing arms for wars that will never come, using weapons sales to funnel petro dollars back to the Empire; instead of alleviating hardship, resentment and anger; instead of sponsoring freedom and liberty and greater rights; instead of abiding by and protecting human rights; instead of encouraging an open, democratic society, the American amalgam of dictators, tyrants, kings, princes, sheiks and generals have done the complete opposite, thereby cementing in stone continued resistance, continued acts of terror, continued anti-Americanism and continued efforts to violently overthrow the region’s rulers.
In order to suppress, repress and control those elements seeking to bring down the region’s tyrannical regimes, the leaders of these states have created a ruthless police state based on oppression, fear, intimidation and paranoia. To combat the anger prevalent in the population, America’s puppets must enhance a surveillance and spying society, creating a police state that has perfected the art of despotic rule. Torture, disappearances, the evisceration of human rights, unlawful arrests, persecution and false imprisonment are but some of the weapons used by these rulers. Yet the Empire maintains firm support of these leaders, a fact not lost on the population at large.
Right to assembly, right to free speech, freedom of the press, the right of habeas corpus, the right to a fair trial, the right of due process and of protections against unreasonable search and seizure are freedoms not afforded to the peoples of the Middle East. These are freedoms and rights America does not care to ask or demand of its puppets. Free elections and the will of the people are but hollow dreams that cannot be given to the masses, for if allowed to vote, tyrants and kings and dictators and generals would be thrown out. To the Empire, democracy is only democracy when the people elect America’s chosen leaders, her new puppet upgrade. If the masses elect someone other than America’s champion, democracy becomes null and void, the will of the people become obsolete and collective punishment becomes policy, and state-sponsored terror. To the Empire, democracy is valid only when fraud or theft returns to power her most loyal and obedient proctors.
The people of the Middle East do not hate the Empire for its freedom and liberties, nor for its way of life. On the contrary, they would love the same freedoms and liberties, the same respect for human rights, and perhaps a better standard of living than they presently enjoy. They hate the Empire for its transgressions in the region, for its continued support for tyranny, for its hypocrisy in talking democracy and systemically supporting despotism, for its rape and pillage of both land and people, for its addiction to oil that has brought nothing but ruin to the people of the region, for its one-sided support for Israel and its apartheid and state-sponsored terrorism in Palestine, for its genocide and destruction of Iraq and its people, for promising Afghan reconstruction but only succeeding in furthering a decline to a failed state, for its quite obvious indifference to the misery and suffering of Arab and Muslim peoples, for its continued Crusade of Surge and Siege that only threatens to engulf the region in flames and further decimate the lives of millions.
Democracy and freedom cannot prosper in these conditions, for despotic rule and free societies are mutually exclusive. In fact, the populations of these nations have very few, if any, freedoms and rights to speak of, and millions are handcuffed to the heavy handed rules and regulations of the state, many of which resemble those of the Middle Ages. When democracy is spoken of, it represents illusions and mirages, not the will of the people, but the charades of the elite. In the Middle East, democracy is a whispered demand, yet an unfulfilled reality. It remains a dream of millions, and an enemy of the few. In the Middle East of reality, and not that of American fiction, tyranny dominates and democracy is nonexistent and all the while, American hypocrisy festers in the mind of the disillusioned.
Of course the United States is fully aware of the methods used by its tyrants to control the population, yet the support, whether diplomatic, financial and militarily, is as constant as it is unwavering. This tacit support of tyranny by the Empire, even when it speaks of bringing freedom and democracy, speaks of the high level of hypocrisy and duplicity inherent in the Empire. That American sponsored tyranny has catapulted the region into backwardness, that it has furthered the evolution of fanaticism, that it has given rise to resistance and terror, that it has made impotent the infinitesimal attempts at building democracy, and that it has created decades of suffering, poverty, oppression and lost opportunity can only be denied, as it usually is, inside the Empire itself. Inside the fires of imperialism, that is to say inside the Middle East, this truth is well known, and understood.
That human beings resent despotism and tyranny is a self-evident truth; that they build resistance and resentment to colonial machinations and imperialist assaults on their lives is earthly reality. That most human beings want simply the opportunity to pursue life, liberty and happiness without barriers or hindrances or the control of the state is an absolute manifestation of who we are. To be human – and yes, the people of the Middle East are, in fact, human – is to seek and want justice, fairness, equality and fundamental human rights. It is to fight oppression and stand for dignity and honor.
What we abhor as a species are illegal, aggressive invasions and brutal occupations of innocent states, exploitations and repression of the individual and criminality and mass murder that is allowed to transpire and go unaccountable. What the people of the Middle East want is exactly what the western world already has. What they want is freedom from imperialism, freedom from tyranny, freedom to exploit their own resources, for their own benefit, for their present and future generations. What they seek is a chance to be human at the dawn of the 21st century.
What they ask is that they be seen the same as any other person in this planet, possessing the same emotions, fears and opinions, the same behaviors and desires. What they seek is the empathy and understanding for the lives they must endure, the tyranny they must live under and the Crusade of Surge and Siege the Empire has imposed on them.
So close your eyes, contemplate reality and not spoon-fed fantasy, envision and empathize, try to understand alien pain and suffering, put yourself in the shoes of the millions being strangulated by the Empire, and prepare to enter the fires of imperialism.