Daniel Pipes has written an essay (“The Sick Middle East“) that sums up the condition of the region in depressing detail. He writes that “maladies run so deep in the Middle East (minus remarkable Israel) that outside powers cannot remedy them,” and then goes on to present a truly remarkable list of problems caused by endemic backwardness, racism, greed and shortsightedness. Read it if you woke up in an excessively optimistic mood today!
Nevertheless, he concludes that while fixing it may be impossible, action is sometimes necessary in order to protect the civilized world from the barbarians that it has empowered by its thirst for their oil:
Nineteenth-century diplomats dubbed the Ottoman Empire “the Sick Man of Europe.” Now, I nominate the whole Middle East the Sick Man of the World. The region’s hatreds, extremism, violence, and despotism require many decades to remedy.
While this process perhaps takes place, the outside world is best advised not to expend blood and treasure to redeem the Middle East – a hopeless task – but on protecting itself from the region’s manifold threats, from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and harems to mega-terrorism and electromagnetic pulse.
This is why the policy of the Obama Administration to permit the most dangerous element in the Muslim Middle East, the expansionist and war-mongering Iranian regime, to obtain nuclear weapons is so foolish. And why supporting the interests of one of the most viciously racist and aspirationally genocidal entities there, the mother of terrorism called the PLO, is so irrational.
Israel really is different, as Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper noted this week:
I believe the story of Israel is a great example to the world.
It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society, a vibrant democracy, a freedom-loving country with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary, an innovative, world-leading “start-up” nation.
You have taken the collective memory of death and persecution to build an optimistic, forward-looking land one that so values life, you will sometimes release a thousand criminals and terrorists, to save one of your own.
In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents values which our government takes as articles of faith, and principles to drive our national life.
The US under Obama, it seems, has given up on the idea that values count in international affairs. Either that, or the values of the administration are closer to those of the Iranian leaders or the PLO than to those that characterize Israel — or Stephen Harper.