A thoughtful and fascinating analysis
September 15, 2001 2:11 PM   Subscribe

A thoughtful and fascinating analysis of the historical backdrop to the current situation. Why did this happen, what circumstances got us into a de facto state of undeclared war with the Islamic world, and what can we realistically do to prevent those circumstances from ever recurring? --Charlie Stross
posted by rushmc (15 comments total)
Very very well written!
posted by ericdano at 2:40 PM on September 15, 2001

I can remember saying, on my first night in New York four years ago, that the partition of the East in 1918 might be responsible for worse things than that in central Europe. This piece explains why better than I ever could.
posted by holgate at 2:42 PM on September 15, 2001

Some of the historical analysis is a little facile, but the connection between political powerlessness and terror is right on. And the prescription makes sense. We should think about what we did in Japan and West Germany after WWII, and emulate that.
posted by rodii at 2:49 PM on September 15, 2001

Lots of misleading stuff here but I am not about to go into it. Suffice it to say that we occupied Japan and Germany; we imposed a new constitution in those to conguered countries. We had and still have troops there but not for the same purposes. Now they are there to protect our empire and give access to hot spots quickly.
Our we prepared to take over every monarchy in the region and impose new constitutions?
Many of these countries are dominated by Muslim governements or at least govts that have strong religious underpinnings. Are we prepared to change that?
Bin Laden may hate Israel but further he hates the western influence and presence in his place of birth, Saudi Arabia.
The west is not wanted in much of that region.
As for Israel: it remains a democracy though with many problems. It was an outgrowth as was stated but approved by the UN. It was not invaded for water! that is plain silly. Ireland, in the North, and India also were tourble spots once the British empire frell apart and the 'britsdecided such spots not worth the keeping.
In fact the US was invited by Britain to take over their interest in Palestine area and we refused.
In essence then the piece is partially right but the conclusions are easier said than done.
posted by Postroad at 3:26 PM on September 15, 2001

Great link! Thanks! If only those nitwits on TV would read it.
posted by drunkkeith at 3:38 PM on September 15, 2001

Interesting - now if he'd just ditch that comment about water =)
posted by Mossy at 4:12 PM on September 15, 2001

not to totally derail the thread (btw, I thought it was a fascinating analysis), but even if "water" was a typo, or a ridiculous thought for the past, it is something serious to consider for the future.

I say that as a former southern californian, who lived thru the great drought of the late 80s. people will do crazy things for water.
posted by epersonae at 4:34 PM on September 15, 2001

Oh look. It's an article described as "thoughtful" on metafilter. Lemme guess, it's against military retaliation.


Geez, how did I know that?
posted by Trampas at 5:33 PM on September 15, 2001

"Thoughtful" has indeed become a buzzword. But I don't think Stross would argue against forceful military action. He's just writing about what should happen next.

That being said, the Middle East's singular economy -- oil -- makes the idea of social equality in the region a tough one to visualize. Those with access to the machinery are the ones who can take and sell the oil, and their population is far fewer than the total. So what then?
posted by argybarg at 5:58 PM on September 15, 2001

Read again, Trampas: the author insists that military retaliation is an unfortunate, but necessary, first step towards reaching resolution to this awful issue.

It is a well-written piece, though I'm still not fully understanding the role of Israel in all of this.
posted by jeddings at 6:17 PM on September 15, 2001

Fantastic piece. Not without flaws, but it is refreshing to read analysis from someone who actually has a base of knowledge to work from. Thanks for the super link, rushmc.
posted by marknau at 6:52 PM on September 15, 2001

Agreed and philosophically sound. But I whole-heartedly feel we could NEVER approach these ideals without FIRST fixing things like THIS and THIS from inside our system.
posted by rjrando at 12:36 AM on September 16, 2001

The water thing probably does have some relevance. See this link.

But perhaps in the overall context, oil is more important, and particuarly the USA's requirement for cheap oil. Would the Middle East be such a focus if the world didn't need oil so much? If more of the US government's funds were spent speeding up the replacement of oil as the primary energy resource, maybe it would be the fastest way to secure a more stable and peaceful world?
posted by contextisall at 12:45 AM on September 16, 2001

A very well-written and interesting article. It does not eschew military action at all, but rather provides a prescription for an enlightened yet interventionist West...

One point I found especially interesting is the end, where the author suggests that the West can help Islam reach its renaissance or age of enlightenment.

What the author doesn't mention is that the West's renaissance was deeply influenced by the Islamic domination of Southern Europe. What an interesting historical loop it would be if the author's dream comes true and the Middle East does awake from its slumber.

As I see it, the US needs to take the opportunity to reign in, through various measures, the various destabalizing and repressive regimes in the region.

For some, such as the Taleban and Iraq, it may involve military action combined with serious investment and institution building.

For others, such as Iran and Israel, it might be a combination of ecomonic and diplomatic moves. For places like Syria, it might be a matter of containment and threat of force.

All of that could so easily go up in flames though, it's a really difficult proposition. Something to note is that the Islamc dominance of Southern Europe involved a miliraty conquest followed by an enlightened leadership...
posted by chaz at 2:25 AM on September 16, 2001

(Reads again)

I was wrong. I was looking for something "knowing" I was gonna find it. Sorry.
posted by Trampas at 8:51 AM on September 16, 2001

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