Quote of the Day:
“The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread to the law courts. And then to the army, and finally the Republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.” – Plutarch – Historian of the Roman Republic
The Irony of the Democratic Process
The more I see, read and hear of the world, the more the great old saying that “what goes round, comes round” has particular resonance.
And nowhere is this more relevant than the Middle East, for whilst we in the West tend to see it as a quagmire and imbroglio, which it is, the reality is that it is fast becoming “payback” time for the deceit and opportunism shown by western politicians, principally from Britain, France and now the United States, in the period since the First World War.
One need look no further than the infamous Sykes-Peco Agreement between Britain and France that saw Syria (in those days Lebanon did not exist and was created by the partitioning of Syria for the Christian Maronite group) being carved up even before the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire had been beaten in World War One.
In doing this, the seeds of today’s machinations were well and truly sown and as much as Lawrence of Arabia ,who led the combined Arab forces to victory over the Turks, resisted, the die was cast, and as the guilt Lawrence felt over this agreement and the deception involved which he took with him to his grave, the promises given the Arabs, Feisal in particular, were reneged on and the dream of an Arab homeland vaporised.
The reading of The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East by Robert Fisk, probably the most eminent of journalists who writes on Middle Eastern affairs, having lived and reported back from there since the early 1970s, has been illuminating, but often depressing, but one, all the same, I am awfully pleased I have had.
It runs for nearly 1400 pages and is a book that should be read by anyone with even the slightest interest in Middle Eastern affairs. It is a chronology of duplicity and deceipt, intertwined with people’s hopes and aspirations and how, time after time, they were dealt body blows by those they thought they could trust.
I have already alluded to the infamous Sykes Peco Agreement but the really fascinating parts are where Fisk has shown time and time again how, behind the scenes, events have come back to bite “us” big time on the bum.
• The US supporting Saddam Hussein in his abortive war against Iran in which over 1.5 million people died, and then have him firing ”their” ammunition back at them in the two Gulf Wars.
• Hamas was supported initially by Israel in its building of mosques and social services as a rival to Yasser Arafat’s Fatah Party. Now that Hamas has deposed Fatah, in an election seemingly all above board, the Israeli’s and the US are “disappointed” (to put it mildly) that it happened!
• The supplying by Britain in the late 1980s and early 1990s to Saddam Hussein of the two chemicals needed to create mustard gas (thiodiglycol and thionyl chloride) on the basis , apparently, that they can be used to create ink for ball-point pens and fabric dyes!
• The sanctions against Iraq that prohibited the selling to Iraq of such horrendous items as pencils, pencil sharpeners, shoe laces, material for shrouds, sanitary towels, shampoo, water purification chemicals, medical swabs, gauze, medical syringes, medical journals, cobalt sources for X-ray machines, disposable surgical gloves, medication for epilepsy, surgical instruments, dialysis equipment toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper, tennis balls etc etc. And we wonder why the West is hated? And yes, it appears that we , as Australians, through the shenanigans of the Australian Wheat Board giving backhanders to Saddam Hussein, were happy to grease the palm of the man who sent millions to their deaths. I hope that Commissioner Cole, as head of the AWB enquiry, can trace this whole sordid affair right through to the top, wherever and whomever that may be.
• The massacre, in 1982, of some 1700 Lebanese civilians by Israeli Phalangist troops, under Ariel Sharon’s control or direction, at the villages of Sabra and Chantila.
So where lies the solution to all this?
Quite frankly, I don’t know, but it seems to me that a great starting point would be coming to an agreement on a Palestinian State AND accepting the fact that if “we” are trying to introduce democracy to this area, that we, as the Hamas win has shown, have to go with what the people want.
To me, the really interesting point is that in about 30 or 40 years, when the oil starts to run out and with that Arab clout in the economic sense, the world (or what is left of it) probably won’t give a stuff about all this.
Maybe we should be asking the Chinese and Indian people for their opinion? In the above timeframe, they will be driving the world, not “we” of the West as we now think!