The Middle East: It's Never Been This Bad Before
I don't want to interrupt your holiday cheer, but I just want to record something noteworthy from my own humble existence on the planet. I was born in the Middle East - in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. I lived there for 21 years, visiting many of the countries that are on the nightly news these days: Lebanon, Syria, Iran. I've been to Jerusalem and Cairo and Beirut and Damascus. Although I was an American, Arabia was home. I remember going to the consulate near the Dhahran air base to swear in officially as an American when I came of age. The Arabian desert will always be my primal underpinnings even though I haven't been there in over 30 years.
Naturally, I've followed the events of my old stomping grounds. How can I describe what that's like? If you root for the Chicago Cubs try multiplying the sense of futility by many factors of a trillion, and maybe you'll understand. There is a lot of pain that goes along with hoping for the best in the Middle East. The place is a heartbreaker. Nothing will ever equal the terrorist attack that killed my best friend for my own personal sense of loss, but in general I've watched the place go through bad times and worse. I remember during the Gulf War watching my hometown under a SCUD missile attack from Saddam, live on CNN. That was unusually screwed up, but looking back now, that seems almost like the good old days. The first Gulf War was dreadful, but there was a sense of order to it, compared to this.
That's what I want to record tonight. This is the week President Bush goes to Jordan and Cheney went to Arabia. How can they show their faces after what they've done to the people over there? This week is a significant milestone. It's so unusual to be in unchartered territory when it comes to the Middle East but that's where we are. So here goes:
In all my years, I have never seen the Middle East in such horrible shape. The Iraq War and the summer war between Israel and Lebanon, the Gaza Strip...My God, there's so many places that are ready to meltdown. Do I blame the Bush administration? Yes. President Bush is the worst kind of power-happy dummy. He actually was so arrogantly stupid that he looked at the Middle East and thought he could fix it. Well, he fixed it all right. He felt all it needed was a good old-fashioned dose of American military might packaged in a preemptive strike. There are many people in this world who think of President Bush and Dick Cheney as war criminals, and I would hate to have to argue with that. But what about the incompetence? What about leadership that gets us into a mess this big? Oh well. This part is all old news, and doesn't explain what I sense tonight.
There's something more happening now. This situation has gotten away. We're acting like we still have a say in the course of events. That could be the worst miscalculation yet. We think we are so great, that we can always bring this back from the brink. The leaders over there are literally begging the people to turn back, but this thing is too hot now. We talk about timetables like we can still set the agenda of events, but the American troops could pull out tomorrow, and we could find out that what we have unleashed over there still brings the world down. Maybe that's what the religious right wants. You know, the End of the World - Home for the Holidays!
This is as bad as I've ever seen it, and when you're talking the Middle East, that is really saying something. Now get out there and Christmas shop.