The new colonialists
by Bill Monson
Whatever its true motivations--oil, crushing a dangerous dictator and his regime, pique, removal of "weapons of mass destruction"-- the invasion of Iraq by the United States and Great Britain is bound to elicit radical reactions
in the Muslim world.
The Middle East Muslims in particular do not see the Coalition forces as liberators. They regard them as invaders--bringing a new version of the West's manipulation of the Middle
East. This attitude is not so surprising if you look at the history of the region since the beginning of the 20th century.
Great Britain was a colonial power with strong investments in the area. It was the
principal attacker during World War I of the Muslim Ottoman Empire and wound up
controlling much of the Eastern Rim of the Mediterranean. British forces captured Baghdad, Gaza and Damascus. It sponsored
the Hijaz Arab revolt which took over the two holiest places of Islam--Mecca and Medina-- and by League of Nations Mandate controlled Palestine which contained the third holy place: Jerusalem. In the Balfour Declaration, Britain also promised word Jewry a national homeland in Palestine and assisted in the creation of the state of Israel.
Although late in coming to the Middle East, the United States made its presence known during World War II with the invasion of Morocco and Tunisia and the maintenance of
bases there well into the 60s. The U.S. was the first to recognize Israel diplomatically in 1948 and has been its best friend ever since. The U.S. dabbled in Middle East oil through Aramco. It intervened in Lebanon in 1958 and1983, and sent military supplies to Israel. Despite its attempts to bridge difficulties between Israel and its Muslim neighbors, the
U.S. is seen as uncritical in its support of Israel. Many Muslims have never forgiven the U.S. for its presence in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War and its continued use of bases in Kuwait and the Emirates. (Most prominent of these, of course, is Osama bin Laden.)
Now, the old enemies are back
Muslim media, including four 24/7 television news services, are portraying them as infidel invaders of Islam, killing innocent women and children. Whatever the outcome of the war, there is bound to be increased resentment and anger, even retaliation, against the U.S. and Britain. This is especially true of the radical fundamentalists who seek to throw off Western political, economic and social ideas and return to the basic religious
principals of Islam.
War and revolution have been common
in the Middle East since World War II.
Alliances have shifted, countries have split, monarchs and dictators have been overthrown or assassinated. What has remained constant is a hatred of Israel and Western hegemony. For example, women have made some
gains socially which infuriate the most radical, like the Taliban; but the women are not likely to give up this Western influence without a struggle.
But the new jihad does not eschew other facets of Western modernization. Airplanes, cars, trucks, telephones, television, tanks and artillery are all welcome--as are "weapons of mass destruction." Muslim radicals see no conflict of conscience in using Western technology to overthrow the West.
Yes, some irreversible changes have taken place; and the U.S. is blamed for many of them.
Given its support of Israel and forays into Muslim affairs, the U.S. will increasingly be a target of Islam fury--not only from radical fundamentalists but also from more middle- of-the-road countries (like Egypt). By taking on the responsibility of attacking Saddam Hussein, the U.S. and Britain have opened themselves to charges of "new colonialism" and increased the instability of the region.
On the other hand, the United Nations failure to enforce its resolutions against Iraq or to support the Coalition have also diminished the U.N. in the eyes of the whole world. It will never again be as effective; and the length and
cost of this Iraq Incursion may be far more than George Bush and Tony Blair ever
This is not quite what I promised--i.e.
a history of U.S. and Israel and what their relationship means to Middle East. That's still coming--maybe next week--but I think this column will prepare for it nicely.
As for picture--how about a U.S. tank
or Fighting Vehicle--preferably with cannon aimed at reader?