Sunday, January 13, 2008

A peace to end all peace, David Fromkin

Another excellent book to help us understand why "Iraqis are sick of foreign people coming in their country and trying to destabilize their country." —George W. Bush press release May 2004.

Irony of that quote aside, apparently, England and many European countries started the "fun" (or at least did a great job of ensuring it would be perpetuated indefinitely) for all of the Middle East back in the early 1900s as part of a continuing "great game".

A few things stood out to me about this text.

First, is my ever growing belief that anyone planning to go to war somewhere should be required to read a minimum of 3 good historical accounts of people in that area, or of other countries becoming involved in (cynics would say "meddling in") the affairs of the area.

A related point- not knowing history does seem to doom some to relive it, the Santayana quote revisited. Another quote I came across checking the Santayana reference: History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce (Karl Marx). I understand just that much more why a British general thanked some of his friends in the U.S. for taking "this problem off our hands".

The text is a great reference for any Arabic individual who is accused of being dishonest or two-faced in dealing with Westerners. They've learned from the best examples the West has to offer. Our paternalistic viewpoints of the region continue unabated to this day.

The author is quite complimentary of Churchill's early work, and ridicules as fantasy most of the tales of T.E. Lawrence.

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