Culture of War

Category: Middle East, World Affairs Topics: Conflicts And War, Foreign Policy, Middle East Views: 7192

Blame the Culture of War for the Chaos in the Middle East

Those who predicted chaos throughout the Middle East in the case of an American war on Iraq were not the least mistaken. Their bleak prediction is coming to life.

Unlike any other region in the world, the Middle East has managed to maintain a collective character, despite the carving up of the area into many small countries. A war in one country can quickly involve a few others, and chaos in one part could lead to chaos elsewhere.

Of course there are reasons for that. The Middle East is predominantly Muslim. Those who don't identify with Islamic values, find themselves part of another compelling force, that of Arab nationalism (or other forms of nationalism, i.e. Kurdish, Persian, etc). Even though there is no such collective political character that embodies such forces, it is almost innate in most Arabs and/or Muslims.

There is no way on earth, despite the lack of cohesiveness of Arab leaders, that you can convince the average Egyptian, for example, that the invasion of Iraq was not a violation of his own space and values. While the understandable despising of Saddam Hussein by many Iraqis explains the cheers of joyous crowds upon his toppling, the Arab street elsewhere was disheartened by the news. It was not simply the admiration of Saddam that harbored such bitterness, but the indescribable loathing of occupation.

Washington's neoconservatives were, and remain well aware of this truth. It is no wonder that their master design in the Middle East doesn't end in Baghdad, but, theoretically at least, spills into other countries, including Syria and Iran. 'Taming' the Muslims and Arabs, in their view, is not confined to seemingly superficial borders that, while dividing Arabs and Muslims in many ways, failed to divide them in spirit.

But there are other reasons, apart from the intangible, that makes the Iraqi experience, equally an Arab and a Muslim experience. There are serious fears that Washington's fanatics are adamant in their intent to take on other countries, namely Syria (for its refusal to 'compromise' on its territorial rights violated by Israel), and Iran (for its oil wealth and strategic location between the Gulf and the gas-rich Caspian).

As a result, and it is no longer a secret, there are unpublicized attempts by many to maintain the statue quo of disorder in Iraq, to ensure complete American failure in stabilizing the country for the sole purpose of controlling its wealth. A 'clean break' in Iraq equals an invitation to Washington's war advocates to tout for a regime change in other 'rogue' Middle East capitals.

Furthermore, there is Turkey and Israel, now heavily involved in Iraq, both lurking in the northern part of the country, each for its own interests.

Turkey, an opponent of the Iraqi Kurds aspiration for any form of independence or autonomy (for it shall empower the Turkish Kurds demands for their long denied rights by the Turkish state), seeks to defuse the Kurds political clout in Iraq, gained by the Kurds backing of the US war. 

Israel on the other hand, according to Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker, wishes to counter the Iranian role in molding Iraq's future. "It's Realpolitik. By aligning with the Kurds, Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran, Iraq and Syria," One former Israeli intelligence officer told Hersh.

Moreover, Israel long sought economic interests in northern Iraq (which were made public just days after the fall of Baghdad) is a good enough reason for the Israeli intelligence's dangerous expeditions throughout the country.

But there is more to this Middle East chaos theory than meets the eye. The invasion and occupation of Iraq has given rise to militancy on a regional level.

Not that violence is a stranger to the Middle East. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has been grinding on for decades, but was somehow contained, at least in recent years within the borders of the Occupied Territory (unless Israel wishes otherwise).

Despite the open backing of Israel by the US- support essential enough to maintain a bloody crackdown on a national quest for freedom, radical Palestinian groups, including Islamic, have been wise enough not to retaliate against US interests. Despite the insanity of war, the prudent decision of Palestinian factions was meant to deny a pretext for American military intervention on behalf of Israel, which the latter has worked hard to attain (especially after the attacks of 9/11).

While Palestinian factions have adhered to their principals, the US invasion of Iraq has given rise to a regional form of militancy that is proven costly to Islam, Muslims and to US interests.

The US government's insistence of an Iraqi-Al-Qaeda link -- now proved a sheer fantasy according to the 9/11 committee investigating the terrorist attacks on the US -- was one of several pretences laid out by the government and its neoconservative ilk for invading Iraq. While such a claim was wrong then, the presence of groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Iraq is no longer a government lie.

The absence of Saddam has created a vacuum that many are offering to fill, or at least to ensure that Iraq's future will not be shaped at their expense. Militants claiming to represent the soul of Islam and its teachings are sharpening their swords throughout the region. 

The end result is the beheading of several people in the region, gruesome acts that are, unfortunately, being explained on the basis of cultural and religious values.

While, in the opinion of many linear thinkers in the West, Islam is to blame for fostering such militancy, many in the Muslim world see the invasion of Iraq and the incomprehensible murder of thousands (needless to say the utter disregard of the dignity of Arabs and Muslims in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere) can only be explained on similar grounds: religious and cultural.

Those who warned of chaos in the region as a result of war soon upgraded their warning to 'hell will break loose' if the voice of reason concedes to the neocons' hawkish mentality and Washington's gun diplomacy.

Hell is indeed breaking loose and the Iraq inferno shall victimize more than the traditional victims of Iraqis but whoever dares to get involved.

And since sanity is a causality of war, very few are those who are analyzing the reasons behind the chaos and bringing those responsible to account. Neoconservatives are still touting the same old tired dogmas of an 'uncivilized' 'Arab mind', 'primitive' and 'tribal', which subsequently makes America's war on behalf of Western civilization and modernity.

Equally correct, the US war is giving rise to those who fail to see the strategic and economic component of America's military venture, but fathom the latter on the basis of a Christian crusade against Islam. The rise of militancy is of course proven hurtful to Muslims than to any other. Alas, the 'my God can beat your God' mantra, adopted by top US government officials is hardly helping the gloomy situation. 

Those who tortured Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib, thinking 'it was funny' have more in common with those who beheaded Paul M. Johnson, the former American hostage in Saudi Arabia, than both parties have with ordinary Arabs and Americans. Their culture is neither Christian nor Islamic. It's the culture of war, espoused by the US in Iraq and earlier in Afghanistan. 

As long as the culture of war prevails over that of reason and sensibility, chaos and all that it entails shall define the future of the Middle East for generations.

Ramzy Baroud is an Arab-American journalist and head of research at English.

He is the editor of the anthology: "Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion."

To buy "Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion" CLICK HERE

  Category: Middle East, World Affairs
  Topics: Conflicts And War, Foreign Policy, Middle East
Views: 7192

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Older Comments:
Okay. I like the article - a lot in fact. In fact I think it is an excellent article.

If I am not mistaken then perhaps Abdullah might be making a case for Arab intervention on behalf of the rightful inhabitants of Bilad al-Sudan. If the Arabs decline then perhaps some non-Arab but predominately Muslim countries might wish to intervene. If the Muslims decline then there are still more than a billion barrels of oil and three trillion cubic feet of natural gas awaiting recovery (in the land that to some extent rightfully belongs to the blacks).

these wars that these terrorist westerners are doing is
most defenitly a war agaisnt islam anybody with half a
brain can see this even a child can figure that out. every
mussilum place is being attacked by those cowardly

anyone who agrees with these terroristic acts by the
westerners can burn in hell which will most likely be
there resting place in the hereafter insha allah.

may allah show mercy on his slaves that are righteous
and do the good the deeds

At the risk of sounding like a bad Mad Max movie what Islam needs isn't another hero. If you think about it both the Jews and the tri-theists were screwed over by their blind following of a leadership that became a point of leverage against them. Politically, the Muslims fell into the same trap when the kalifate make slavery an integral part of the government.

Religiously however the lack of rabis, priests or their equivalent has been one of Islams greatest strengths. It is like a sponge, take it out of the water, cut it into a hundred pieces and drop them back into the water and you will get a hundred sponges.

What Islam needs is a method of communication, coordination, cooperation and collaboration with a very flat to none existent command structure. Every human that has a God given soul (all of them as far as I know) has a responsibility to be a representative of God to the rest of creation. Not one person, not a small group of elected officials, not some group of religious un-authorities, everyone.

Develop the infrastructure to enable that and the people of Islam become an ecosystem, a union of 1.6 billion people, an unstoppable force.

Where the people go, those that wish to be "leaders" will follow.

Our Islamic duty of freeing the oppressed was carried out by the USA in Afganistan and Iraq. God forbid it occur in Syria or Iran. Until we become intellectually honest and work for good no matter how bad our pride was hurt we will never move forward. These wars were just by Islam and by secular law.

Whether it is cultural war or "whatever" war, the blame falls on both the East and the West. Everyone has become so materialistic and so busy accumulating wealth (for the purpose of having good time) that he or she has forgotten the whole purpose of life.

As it is state in the Koran "...Oh man! What has maketh the heedless concenring thy Lord?....It is the accumulation of wealth and worldly increase that has made the grow violent and transgress..."


Take any random group of humans and there will be a percentage that will be militant. Toy guns, swords and other imitations of weapons of various amounts of destruction have been big sellers for long years. And as the saying goes where I come from "Men are like boys, except for the price of their toys." The difference in results from the forces that create intercity gangs and chicken-hawk war administrations may be little more than the size of the "toys" each group can afford (or cause others to pay for).

One of the dangers with fighting against the "core of evil" like Israel and its supporting cohorts is becoming like what you fight against. Revolutionaries make poor administrations in general and there is sometimes little difference, other than viewpoint, between freedom fighters and revolutionaries. Divide to conquer, unite to rule.

There are many rules of engagement expressed by Islam and many if not most are there to keep Muslims from sliding into unacceptable attitudes, habits of thought, and actions when under threat or fighting for justice. Looking for loopholes, justified by expediency or otherwise is unacceptable. Remember that if power does not create peace and more power create more peace, you can not stand in the presence of God, nor approach the thrown.

While western commentators like to say Muslims need to keep Islam from being hijacked by the terrorists they are allowing their own society and religion to be hijacked by the arrogant, the ignorant and the belligerent. It is a classic case of the pot calling the chandelier black. We must expend as much effort keeping the chandelier clean as we do in keeping it burning.

I agree I believe that the Middle East is a
collective circle whose regions functions off of
the serenity of other countries. But the interest
of various countries in the middle East have
been chaotic long before so-called american

The problem is not only the ideologies of
those in the surrounding regions of the Middle
East but it is also their political theory of other
nations that utilize and exploit those regions
which in essence, will create a situation of
cultural chaos.