Sunday, January 26, 2014

A historical perspective on "instability"...

Context matters.  Adam Garfinkle is a master of context.  If the events of the past few years in the Middle East confuse you, welcome to the club.  If you want to build a foundation for understanding, this essay from Garfinkle might be a good place to start.  Wee excerpts here:

"Now the region as a whole - all of it, pretty much, however you define it - is unstable. Really unstable. It could get even worse and probably will, but this, folks, is what instability looks like - this is the real deal.  This is an entire region engaged in the political equivalent of a demolition derby, except that no one seems to be having any fun."

"It rarely seems to occur that the peoples of the region might just bear some responsibility for their own situation. And it virtually never occurs that looking for someone to blame is perhaps not the best way to go about understanding regional realities."

" I was stunned when I heard President Bush say in 2003, “For 60 years, the United States pursued stability at the expense of democracy the Middle East, and we achieved neither”, a statement that Condoleezza Rice repeated often while Secretary of State (which inclination, more than anything else, led me away from her service). In other words, the reason that Arab countries were not democracies, and hence produced terrorists, is not because of thousands of years of their own historical and cultural experiences, but because of U.S. foreign policy decisions over the previous six decades."

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