I have spent a lot of time in Muslim nations and enjoyed it and felt of value and felt very welcomed and made friends and hopefully been a statesman of sorts and a useful representative of the United States of America—as well as perhaps providing some suggestions about the effective management of human resources and enterprises in a way that contributes to global prosperity and stability. In the last year I've been to: Saudi Arabia, Oman, Dubai, Bahrain, Turkey, Malaysia. Next week my schedule includes return trips to Turkey and Dubai, the former experiencing political turmoil over the maintenance of Atatürk's state.
I look forward to my visits.
And yet on the way home from Italy yesterday, I read results of a poll revealing that 91% of Egyptians, our longtime "allies," feel that attacking American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan is justified. Obviously this pisses me off at Egyptians. But it also pisses me off at me. This is not a political Blog. I bend waaaaaaay over backwards to keep my deeply held political views to myself. But stuff such as the 91% figure demand comment.
In short, in response to very legitimate issues, we have nonetheless exacerbated the most Godawful mess imaginable in the Middle East. And in the process screwed up almost beyond recognition, hopefully not beyond repair, America's reputation in the world as a beacon of hope and decency. (To want to shoot American soldiers is, at least metaphorically, to want to shoot at me. I am an American, and regardless of how I cast my vote, I am responsible for my government—that's the way it is in Democracies. Why do they want to shoot me? Because they're hopeless? Because I'm hopeless? Both?)
The situation is ridiculously complex, the enmities thousands of years old, and ready solutions there are not.
I intend to go to Turkey and Dubai. I will try to be of service. (Jaw jaw beats war war, per Churchill.) And I must declare that, in the process, I will be almost as pissed off at "Washington's" "blunders"—manifest incompetence—as at the 91% of Egyptians who are maddened by us.
So/but: Do I indirectly support the 91% of Egyptians who want to kill our troops by going to Turkey and Dubai? You may say, "Of course not." I think I agree—but, frankly, I'm not sure.
What do you think?
Should I go?
(No simplistic, sloganistic answers please.)
(A State Department report released yesterday concludes that our "liberation" of Iraq has increased global terrorism—not ameliorated it. This is "news"?)
Before blogging became all the rage, Tom was posting book reviews and Observations (essentially early blog posts) to this site. You can find the archives below.
What we're talking about
on the front page.