Friday, February 15, 2013

The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East

[August 2009] The book continually berates the "politically correct" establishment that produces falsehoods on the middle east. But it turns out the "PC establishment" is nothing more than Michael Moore. It also attacks the middle eastern policy of nearly every US president other than Gerald Ford. (Carter and Bush the younger are given the most scathing treatment, apparently showing that the anti-PC venom is no respecter of parties.)

Once you get past the tone of attacks and victimhood, the book actually has a well defended argument in favor of a "forceful" middle east policy. From the American policy perspective, having a friendly despot (as in Saudi Arabia) is much preferable to having democracy. The author argues that the Muslim Middle East is governable only by force. The Saudi Arabian response to al qaeda is given as the ideal way to squash terrorists with force. For the US, it would be great to see the rest of the middle east ruled like Saudi Arabia.

He briefly discuss the importance of oil to the current situation in the middle east. Unfortunately, his argument here begins to unravel. The need for fertilizer is given as one of the main reasons that we will always need Arabian oil. (Thus, it follows from his argument that organic agriculture would be a great way to wipe out Islamic terrorism.) Saudi Arabia's restriction of rights and quick disposal of al qaeda is presented as a preferable response - however, the consequences of responding like this in western countries could be even worse than the threat of terrorism they attempt to fight. In the end, the policy of subjugating the people under an oppressive state in order to maximize oil extraction is about as sustainable is a large SUV.
An alternative viewpoint can be found in Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude.

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