I'm reading a book about written by Robert Fisk. He is an Englishman who has been based in the Middle East for a long time. This book is about some of the many wars that have happened there since 1979.
Reading this book I have come to a few conclusions. One, I feel like I aught to know more about all of this. It is not entirely my fault that I don't since I was 4 in 1979. An aside-I had dinner with my mother and my aunt tonight at The Grapevine in Salem. We discussed what we were reading and I hauled out my telephone book sized history of the Middle East and said "You guys probably know a lot more about all of this than I do-since you were older than 4 in 1979." and they both said yes, they did know a bit more. But that didn't mean that they weren't interested in the Full Story.
I thought about this riding on the commuter rail back to Boston. In 1979, they didn't have the Internet and the consequent up to the minute news reporting that we now have (duh!) but furthermore, at the time of the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the Iranian revolution, subsequent hostage crisis and the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war, my mom was making sure I didn't eat glue or stick my fingers in electrical sockets while carrying, bearing and then caring for my little sister. For which I thank her, by the way. These things were probably taking up enough of her attention that she didn't notice the bad news from the Middle East. My aunt would have been performing the same glue-and-socket-avoidance for her son, my cousin aged three. So she might have (understandably) missed some of that too. I mention this because I'm sure that plenty of other people were ignorant of what was going on because they were busy living their lives and there was not yet a 24 hour inundation of news.
Anyways, the conclusion I've come to (although I suspect it was hanging around in the back of my mind waiting for better supporting evidence) is that most of the people who've been running things in the Middle East are psychopaths who the American government had no business dealing with-let alone installing or supporting.
The UN, Médecins sans frontières, the Red Cross, the Red Crescent and Amnesty International are the only western organizations that should have had anything to do with the Middle East. 1979 would have been a great year to start investigating alternative fuels. But here it is 30 years on and the US is embroiled in not one but two wars in the Middle East both (arguably) our own fault.
The guys (it was mostly men) running things in the Middle East in the late 70s and the 80s *all* behaved like Vlad Tepes and I'm going to go out on a limb and say they probably haven't improved much since then. This is what the world looks like with the guard rails removed.
Amendment: I'm sure there were honest men and women running things as well--I am after all reading a history written by a war correspondent. But it seems to me there were an awful lot of thieves and thugs to whom the westerners gave countenance.
Westerners have had tyrants and psychopaths as their leaders. As a result, starting with the Magna Carta, the governed (even if they be the nobility) have attempted to put emergency breaks and guard rails--rules, around the government and its executive to keep tyranny at bay. None of those guard-rails exist in the Middle East. And so, we have Vlad Tepeses, Bloody Maries, Josef Stalins and Cathrine de Mediciss running the Middle East and we do business with them?
I am not at all implying that we in the West are pure as driven snow (Hitler? Stalin Abu Gharib? Guantanamo Bay?) All I'm saying is that we shouldn't do business with thugs.