Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Conflict between the West and the Middle East: Overview

First post in the 10 Greatest Dangers to the Western World series
Part 1

First off, my apologies for the delay in publishing this, but I wanted to take some time, to start with a clean slate, and just take in a wide variety of texts on the subject of the conflict between these two cultures before passing any judgments. I read stuff that was so far left I wanted to go hunting with Dick Cheney, and I read posts so far right I wanted to move to Canada. Ok, I wanted to move to a 1990s version of Canada.

So first, a brief overview of the findings of my research, along with some of the conclusions I came up with. Basically, over the past 15 years there has been a growing division between the “Western” nations and the “Middle-Eastern” nations. While some say the division is over form of government (democracy vs. dictatorship) and others believe the conflict is over religion (roughly, the Judeo-Christian ethic vs. Islam), it is becoming more and more apparent that the conflict is equally about world power and the place of the Muslim community in the world order.

When going back through all the research, there were three points that stood out to me as serious misconceptions that could have severe impacts in how we deal with this new threat. And in my opinion it is these three issues where we can make a difference, making sure people know the truth of the conflict, and not simply accepting the party line given to the public by whichever party is in power at any given moment.

First and foremost, there is a myth that that democracy is the only type of moral or valid government. We are bombarded with images of the unholy society with issues and situations that offend our value system, and we are told that this is why we need to fear and hate the other society. It was this same thought process that fed into the cold war, and it’s this same issue that may turn this conflict into a long-term test of wills.

In reality, Islamic society has some advantages over Western society, though personally I would never give up the basic freedoms afforded by a democratic society. Islamic nations have existed for thousands of years, and to say that the Islamic dictatorships are not valid is to turn a blind eye towards the very rich history of the Middle East. And while I feel that Islam is immoral on such issues as the rights of women, I must concede that I view these issues from the perspective of my own morality, and the Muslim community has a very different, not necessarily lesser, morality.

The second misconception is that we are entered into a battle on multiple fronts with the Islamic communities. Terrorist leaders and leaders of Western-perceived rogue-nations are considered to be leaders of the battle, dispersing militants into our societies to fight the battles of the growing struggle between democracy and Islam. And I admit that this was the image I had before doing this research as well. Of course, if this was the case, I wouldn’t label this paragraph a misconception.

In reality, there are two conflicts occurring here, as opposed to the one general conflict most people perceive. The first conflict is between what I’ll call “Diaspora” Muslims, or Islamic people who have left the Middle East, or Islamic people living in an occupied nation in the Middle East, and either the nations these Diaspora Muslims live in or the occupying country. The second conflict is between the afore-mentioned terrorists and militant leaders and the Western “imperialist” governments.

The first conflict has to do with the treatment of Muslims as second class citizens. This is particularly noticeable in Europe as well countries like Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan where the general populace is occupied militarily. The second conflict is a push to prevent democratic values from being pushed into the Middle East arena, and to introduce the Islamic community as a substitute for the Soviet Union as a global super-power. The two conflicts only merge when the general Muslim community believes their position can be advanced by conflict with the West.

The final misconception I will touch upon is the belief that all Muslims view Western society as incompatible with Islam. In reality, most Islamic people I have met or have red are looking for similar things out of life as most people from Western society, including peace. However, most Muslim people have become frustrated with the growing Islamophobia seen around the world, and many see conflict as the only viable solution. Many people from the Western world see conflict as the only viable solution as well.

In the following posts we’ll examine each of these issues in more depth, and cover some of the better posts I’ve read on the issues. But draw your own conclusions, and let me know what you think. If the cold war is a model for what we’re experiencing, we are not looking at a new society that may or may not succeed, and one that may eventually burn out on its own. The cold war lasted 50 years because communism finally withered. Do you believe, after thousands of years of existence, that Islamic society will fail?

The moral of the story is that this single issue could dominate the public’s consciousness well past your or my lifetime. If the rift between these two societies continues to grow, it could affect every aspect of our lives, from our energy sources to our freedoms, from safety to the very makeup of our society. So draw your conclusions early, and try to make a difference. Because if the conflict continues to grow, we will all be affected by it.

technorati tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Greatest Dangers to the Western World Series
Part 1: Overview
Part 2: The Validity of the Muslim Theocracy
Part 3a: Two Distinct Conflicts – Conflict between Diaspora Muslims and Host Country
Part 3b: Two Distinct Conflicts – Conflict between various Muslim Leaders and Western Imperialism
Part 4: Muslim Compatibility with Western Society
Part 5: http://scottageb.blogspot.com/2006/02/conflict-between-west-and-middle-east.html

Posted by Scottage at 1:27 AM / | |