One Thousand and One Mistakes (Updated)
Seems as if every update just paints the same picture, but grimmer…
By Luis F. Brizuela Cruz
Much has transcribed since those days in the early nineteen sixties when my mother used to read to me the fascinating Arabian folk stories of the One Thousand and One Nights. It may have been during some of those hot and lazy June afternoons, when her words would transport me to a land where carpets flied, adventurous thieves would pilfer romantically and an intrepid sailor with a turban would engage in the most daring expeditions, that an Islamic cleric by the name of Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini was transforming our perception of Arab and Muslim history. The Islamic revolution of the twentieth century of the Common Era was in its embryonic stage.
A story that may have had its true origins in that biblical moment when Abraham procured the gift of paternity outside the marriage, had culminated thousands of years later with the manifestation of Muslim religious radicalism; in total defiance of the adherence to western ways by some Arab nations and the intrusion of the descendants of Abraham’s latter child with his wife Sarah.
Midway through the twentieth century, mostly in sympathetic response to the horror of the holocaust experienced by Jews during World War II, the United Nations conceded to allow Hebrews back in the territory of the Middle East where the Judeo-Christian scriptures suggested that they belonged as a nation. Hence, the new Israel, one of the most magnificent concepts of society in history was created, except that in the process the Palestinian Arabs, former occupants of the land, felt robbed and displaced. It is important to note that during the Israeli occupation of the area, Arabs were permitted and even invited to coexist amid the promise of prosperity turned into reality within a very short amount of time. Many agreed and today they enjoy one of the highest levels of progress of any working middle class Arab community in that volatile and conflicting part of the world. A larger group of Palestinians, however, chose not to integrate and, under the banner of a growing militancy, opted to remain apart in sections of the territory they strongly felt had been taken away from them by the Jews.
From the onset the tension between the two groups generated a consensus within the Arab world of antagonism toward Israel. This ill feeling would translate into various wars and constant condemnation of any country in the world with ties to the Jewish State; at times escalating to inflict harm on Jewish sympathizers in what became known as Muslim or Islamic terrorism. The relationship between the United States and Israel would become the most compelling target for radical Islamic groups in their continuing efforts to destroy an alleged alliance of infidels.
Rouhollah Mousavi Khomeini may have been not only the precursor of the Islamic revolution of the twentieth century, but the pivotal historical figure leading to a long era of Muslim extremism and terrorism, which has transformed the way of the entire world as well as its perception of the otherwise fascinating and endearing Arab history and tradition.
The process of understanding, assimilating and trying to deal effectively with Islamic radicalism has been long, grueling and highly costly. Numerous efforts by world leaders to peacefully resolve the Middle East conflicts have been consistently met by futility. Various American presidents have, over the last several decades, made the peace between Arabs and Jews one of their primary objectives in matters of foreign policy, only to see the fruit of their labor reverse to invigorated hostilities. Religious fanaticism and the fickle political opportunism on the part of some Islamic leaders have fueled, time and again, the ancestral hatred against Jews and western civilization in which many Arab societies have been mired for centuries. Whenever an Arab nation has demonstrated tendencies to adhere to western customs or has been inclined to make peace with Israel, its leaders have been vilified and ardently defied by the radical Islamic extremists within that particular country.
Historically, the United States and other countries have incurred in multiple miscalculations and erratic decisions while in pursuit of the elusive stability of various Arab societies. Their efforts have been mostly interpreted as selfish imperialistic behavior and unjust intrusion in matters that should remain off limits -as Islamic religious canons dictate the irrefutable absolutism and veracity of their faith.
After supporting for years the dictatorial, westernized regime of Shah Pahlavi in Iran and yielding to the pressures deriving from religious Islamic factions led by the cleric who would become known as the Ayatollah Khomeini, the United States seemed to recognize the need for the departure of the Shah and the return to power of Muslim fundamentalism. What followed this series of events was the official start of the Islamic revolution, highlighted by the taking of American hostages by religiously emboldened Iranian students in 1979. The Iranian society would expeditiously return to Muslim radicalism after many decades of westernization.
In one of the most significant episodes of the Cold War, the United States supported Osama bin Laden (UBL) and the Afghanis against the soviet invasion of their country, only to categorize, years later, the figure of Bin Laden as America’s most wanted criminal; following a series of global acts of terrorism and culminating with the attacks of September 11, 2001, which claimed the lives of three thousand Americans.
Our defense of Kuwait against the invasion of Iraq gave us only a temporary status of liberators in the eyes of the Arab world and our subsequent deposing of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein only led to chaotic sectarian fighting fueled by religious differences and the infiltration in Iraq of contaminating radical elements from neighboring rogue Islamic countries. We had failed to win “minds and hearts”, after an incalculable human and material sacrifice in hope of bringing emancipation, harmony and prosperity to the so called “cradle of civilization”.
Over the last decade the world has witnessed various upheavals and revolts within the Arab world against longtime dictators in what has been named the “Arab Spring”. Again, confusion and disorder have overshadowed the nobility of these endeavors, as Islamic extremists have taken advantage of these transitional periods to invade the scenes and solidify their positions within the new power structures of the uprising societies. In places like Egypt, the taking over by Muslim fundamentalists, such as the Islamic Brotherhood, quickly proved to be the same or worse than the previous dictatorships.
The troubling, at times conflicting scenarios from the Arab world which appear to proliferate with every passing day are creating enormous difficulties in the decision making process of leaders across the globe in regard to solutions to the various crisis. The Syrian situation demonstrated once and for all that not just the Arabs and Jews conflict is a highly complicated issue for world leaders to address, but the dilemmas within some Arab societies may still be the most enigmatic and challenging mission. The longtime dictator of Syria, Bashar Al-Assad, violated Geneva regulations by utilizing chemical weapons against his own population, which would have -under normal and clear cut circumstances- called for immediate retaliatory action by the world community. Instead, the world has just continued to simply watch this genocide after the proverbial “line on the sand” proclaimed by President Obama was violated and no action was taken by the American head of state and his administration.
The undaunted advance of the terrorist group Isis toward Bagdad in Iraq casts a shadow of future mayhem and destruction for the country that the United States and allies sacrificed so much to liberate and democratize. The killing of Muslims by Muslims (shown in the patrioaction.net picture below), primarily motivated by sectarian reasons, depicts the absolute level of chaos currently afflicting that part of the world.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin continues to act with total impunity in Ukraine, as he confirms the unwillingness of the entire world -particularly the United States- to confront him. The unchecked solidarity and weapons negotiations between the terrorist factions from the Arab world and Russia could prove to be the catalyst for future catastrophic scenarios that the international community will have to face, inevitably, most likely sooner than later.
This new, complex and very profound level of international crisis finds a weakened and likely fragile American material and emotional landscape, in times when uncontrolled liberalism has become the norm in our society. The historical strong image of the United States in the eyes of the rest of the world has transformed into a meek socialist vision of a universe with unrealistic idyllic overtones. The general reality, local and global, and specifically the reality of an Arab world in disarray and an emboldened Russia in pursuit of its return to international relevance spell serious troubles and misery for the entire universe in the years to come. The horrific possibility of World War III is no longer just a Cold War warning sign. It may materialize rather soon into an apocalyptic reality.
Hope of reversing the course of current events is faint at best, when our Commander in Chief and alleged leader of the free world insists and persists in negating and/or distorting the gravity of the various situations at home and abroad. Even in moments when he may have seemed ultimately assertive, his timing has been inaccurate and even detrimental. In the mystifying depths of his mind and soul, he probably has to deal on daily basis with other demons and conflicts that override the urgency faced by humanity. After all, he himself may very well be a dilemma between east and west, between religious convictions and even between cosmological ideals.
As the entire world moves into a period of possibly undecipherable and insurmountable scenarios, the election and reelection of the man who was given the opportunity to be the greatest leader who ever lived may ultimately be confirmed as two of the most serious One Thousand and One mistakes ever made by any society in the history of mankind.
(Updated on August 5, 2014)