WHY US?

When faced with the incessant conflict in the Middle East our politicians, whether like David Cameron in pursuit of a high moral stance or Barack Obama in pursuit of a face saving gesture, never seem to answer the most basic of questions: Why us?

We have violent chaos throughout the Muslim Middle East and yet the talk seems to concentrate on ‘the failure of the West’. There is conflict in Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, the Sudan, the Lebanon, Somalia and Syria; just about anywhere in the region where there are Muslims. Where there is no reported conflict it is usually because those countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are in the control of very efficient dictators. It is difficult to comprehend just why the political and media establishment think that it is the responsibility of the West to step in and clean up the mess and impose peace and stability.

It is the lack of Western action which will eventually bring stability to the Middle East. Genuine revolutions do not happen at the dictate of chancelleries thousands of miles away from the action. Genuine revolutions happen on the front line where the people intimately involved take action to decide their own future. If democracy is ever going to take root in the lands of Islam it has to be planted and watered by Muslim hands.

Where are the Arab nations? Qatar full heartedly embraces the Muslim Brotherhood and incites internecine chaos. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States are busy funnelling arms to Islamic militants in Syria through Turkey. Erdogan’s Turkey, supplied with Western arms, is patiently chipping away at the foundations of a secular democratic state in order to impose Islamism at home and abroad.

Why is it the task of the USA or the UK or France to ‘punish’ Bashar al-Assad? The Arab League makes statements about the iniquities of the Syrian regime, and waits for Western arms to pull their chestnuts out of the fire. Surely it is time for the Arab world to take stock and sort out its own problems instead of waiting for the West to take action. We should no longer be doing the heavy lifting for the Arab world.

Those opposed to Western intervention in Syria have been accused of self-interest and allowing dictators to proceed unchecked. Western self-interest may yet be the saving of the Middle East and moderate Muslims. If we truly cared about the spread of peace and stability we in the West would be allowing Islam to sort out its own problems. Our interventions up until now have had the singular effect of facilitating the spread of militant Islam and hatred of the West.

There is a reason why the police are reluctant to intervene in domestic disputes, all too often the warring parties turn on the ‘interfering’ police. We have an appalling track record of Middle East interference. In the West we sometimes operate on the principle that ‘My enemy’s enemy is my friend’. In the Middle East the principle is ‘My enemy’s enemy is still my enemy’. Intervention only ever increases Islamic enmity at home as well as abroad.

In a comment on the last post John Ross wrote ‘I’m inclined to believe that enlightened self-interest is a safer motivation for national policy to follow, though it is an inadequate basis for personal ethics.’ Not only is enlightened self interest a safer motivation for national policy for us it is more enlightened for all concerned.

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About Campbell

Now retired but once upon a time a parish minister in Glasgow, before that the South West and initially the Black Isle. Been a prison chaplain and lecturer. Still am constantly bemused by the weird world around me.
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One Response to WHY US?

  1. Peter says:

    As regards your post, you have a point. However, many Middle Eastern states were a creation of Britain and France following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, and when we drew lines on the map we largely ignored the different ethnic and religious identities of the populations concerned. So morally we have some responsibility for the resulting conflicts. But I agree that hoping to export democracy to these countries, (or impose it on them!) is pretty futile, and would not bring peace in any case. Adjusting the national boundaries here and there might help, but how would we get everyone to agree? There would always be winners and losers and the West no longer has the ability or will to

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