Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Response to Tony Blair’s Article in the January/February 2007 edition of Foreign Affairs entitled, “A Battle for Global Values”

According to Mr. Blair, “We can win only by showing that our values are stronger, better and more just than the alternative.” He is, of course, implying that Western values are stronger, better and more just than what he refers to as global extremism. I find this an interesting argument essentially devoid of historical validation.

The root causes for the instability in the Middle East are myriad and complex. However, it is the pursuit of oil by the Western powers that led to the occupation of this area of the world since the defeat of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. It is the Western powers, who divided up the region to fulfill their geopolitical ends and set up and supported tyrannical regimes. All of this is, of course, well documented and supported by overwhelming evidence. These self-serving policies led to the death of many innocent people of Arab descent. The inordinate loss of life and property apparently was not enough to deter Western powers from pursuing their goals.

Interestingly, the unconditional support of the Israel’s brutal illegal occupation of Palestinian lands, its refusal to live up to Security Council resolutions (especially Resolution 242) regarding this occupation and the tacit acceptance of the Israel’s large nuclear arsenal and delivery system are not mentioned in this article about values.

Mr. Blair’s attempt at justification of the patently illegal aggression perpetrated against the sovereign state of Iraq predicated on outright lies and fabrications by imputing the alleged superiority of Western values is patently absurd. Of course, the attack of September 11 is alluded to in the very first paragraph. Again, we have a fascinating omission of what I believe is a very essential and integral reality: i.e. the First Gulf War that targeted the civilian population of Iraq. How readily it seems to be forgotten that before this destruction of the infrastructure of the country in which the power, water purification and sewage treatment as well as hospitals, schools, homes were laid to waste, Iraq was a relatively prosperous country. As a result of this onslaught by the Western powers, whose values we are supposed to hold in high esteem, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. The degree of suffering of the Iraqi people was further exacerbated by ten years of onerous sanctions that actually attempted to impede the flow of medicines into the country. The extent of sickness and death that resulted from these policies has been well documented by U.N. studies. It should be kept in mind that to this day electrical power remains a scarce commodity in the country. Somehow this barbaric behavior on the part of the Western powers is not to be equated with the evil of the Taliban or Saddam Hussein, even though quantitatively it is far more heinous.

Mr. Blair’s arguments are suffused with what I regard as magical thinking. The reader is somehow expected to suspend all knowledge and understanding regarding the root causes of the rise of fundamentalism in the Middle East. Military adventurism is not the answer, nor is Western-styled arrogance especially when the interests of the West in regards to the Middle East are so thoroughly interlaced with purely economic concerns.

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