Middle East for Dummies
Once in a blue moon, I read columnist Rami Khouri in the Daily Star just to keep tabs on the dull and hackneyed writing common to the region. When Rami is not repeating some sickening cliché, he is usually busy giving advice to Arab leaders and to the President of the United States.
Today Rami wrote a human interest people-are-decent-everywhere kind of column.
In a US airport, Rami meets a young military man headed for service in the Middle East for the first time. The two happen to sit next to one another for a bite to eat.
After Rami tells us he went to college in the US during the Vietnam War (i.e. he’s been around and knows war), and after telling the young man he was in Lebanon during the war (i.e. he’s an expert on international affairs and war), he and the young man agree that war is often not the answer (brilliant conclusion based on Rami’s deep knowledge of the subject of war and warfare.)
Khouri then can’t resist taking a gratuitous swipe at America’s great achievements, he cites Chinese chicken dinner for $5.95. Now if he did not mean that as a swipe at US culture then he does not know what he is saying (or writing).
All that is innocuous enough (full piece here). The coup-de-grace for me was when the young reservist asks Rami what is it like “over there”, in the Middle East. Here’s Rami’s answer:
I told him it was just like America - a great land, full of wonderful, warm people, but often disfigured by the stupid decisions of sleazy politicians.
Take two seconds and read Rami’s answer again. Whew! Gosh the Mid-East is so much like America that I now forget why I left the hellhole in the first place.
I thought it impossible to be more condescending toward US troops than US Senator John F. (for Fop) Kerry, but by golly Ram-old-boy, you done it!
On the other hand, if this is Rami’s real view of the Middle East and its problems, a few bad politicians, he is an idiot and a stupid one at that.
Stupidity or condescension? Take your pick. My guess is that it is a lot of both.
Yep, the Middle East and the US exactly the same. "People-good/politicians-bad" says the prominent columnist of a prominent journal. Call it “Middle East for Dummies”, or rather “Middle East by Dummies.”