Americans like it simple. Put on a ten gallon hat, make it white and you’ve got your “good guy”. Make it black and you know “that cowboy ain’t no good”…
In the Middle East there aren’t any cowboys and people can’t be divided on the lines of race, culture or even religion. There are Moslems serving faithfully in the IDF and there are Israeli Jews working hard at destroying the State of Israel. Mind bending to those who like it simple, way too complicated to people who have been taught that all information should come in easily digestible sound bites, preferably with amusing punch lines in between.
The truth of the matter is that it’s not really that complicated. The “problem” is that you have to break the thrall of celebrity culture; it’s not an issue of black and white. You have to put the mental short cuts aside and actually look at content of character and quality of action.
In the land of the couch potato everyone is slow and thus, very easy to control. “It’s too complicated”, “It doesn’t affect me”, “Why should I care?”
The answers here are simple as well. It’s not that complicated. It does affect you. You should care because even if at the moment the problems seem “over there”, they can explode in New York or cut off heads on the streets of London. The problems of the world are not far away, they can end up on your doorstep, at any time.
Living in Israel has taught me that my neighbors’ problems can suddenly become my problem. That’s why Egypt and the American response to turmoil in Egypt are very disturbing. Syria and the American response affect my life as well as that of our “neighbors” to the north.
In Egypt the people rose up, objecting to the economic situation in their country and the corruption of their government. The focus was not on the “Zionist enemy” but on the simple desire to have hope, to know that food will be affordable and jobs will be available. The American government, instead of providing assistance and encouraging reform, enthusiastically and adamantly insisted that Mubarak (whose government had held the country relatively stable for decades) be ousted from office.
Then the Moslem Brotherhood was elected to run the country. They had promised the Egyptians to be attentive to the will of the people and to create reform; instead they immediately began implementing Sharia law. The people watched with increasing dismay at what was being done to their country and the majority of Egyptians eventually chose to remove the Moslem Brotherhood from power. They did not want to become a second Afghanistan. Suddenly Mr. Obama’s government reared its head saying it is not right to overthrow a “democratically” elected government. Pretend democracy was more important than a nation fighting against being forced into sharia.
The Moslem Brotherhood, the father of Hamas, suddenly lost power and America was backing them up. The obvious conclusion was to fight back in order to regain power. When the Egyptian military began cracking down on rioters in the streets, bring calm back to the country the American government said that it’s not nice to kill civilians and people have a right to protest peacefully. This is certainly true however the Middle East is not about black hats and white hats. How many “peaceful protestors” do you know who go out into the streets with guns, bats, knives and stones? How many of them chant that they will fight till they die or take back the country? Or decide to give release to their wrath by murdering Christians and burning churches that are hundreds (if not thousands) of years old?
And America continues to reinforce the idea that a military trying to enforce security for the majority of the people in the country is a bad thing. Stopping terrorism in Sinai is not good… If America is on their side, why should the Moslem Brotherhood ever put down their weapons?
Wait a minute! Who is wearing the black hat?
A civil war has been going on in Syria for over two years and thousands of people have been murdered, wounded and displaced. The American government has voiced support for the “rebel” groups who are actually a myriad of organizations, many of them different types of Al- Qaeda offshoots and affiliates. Certainly it is logical to think that it would be better to have a vast amount of terrorist organizations in charge of a country than one single dictator. Right?
Who hasn’t seen (or at least heard of) the video of the “rebel” eating the liver of the Syrian soldier he had just killed? Certainly it is logical to believe that they are the “good guys” and just want “freedom”. Right?
Now someone used chemical weapons in Syria, killing civilians in a horrifying manner. Mr. Obama’s government is shouting about how they know for certain that it was the Assad government who perpetrated this crime against humanity. They know for certain? Like they knew that a YouTube video was the cause of the attack in Benghazi? (Liar, liar your embassy is on fire!)
No one really cared that thousands of Syrians were being slaughtered. It is only the use of chemical weapons that made Western governments raise their sleepy heads, begin to look around and discuss attacking Syria. That sounds like a good idea. Attacking what’s left of the Syrian government will certainly make the region more stable. No group in Syria, neither the government nor the terrorist organizations will ever decide to vent their frustration at America by sending missiles into Israel. No, that could never happen… right?
I used to think that America was the leader and protector of the world. I don’t think that any more.
I do know that there are no cowboys in the Middle East. Good and bad clearly exist but knowing who is who is not as easy as looking at the color of a hat. Character matters. Actions matter even more and bad things happen when good people stay silent.