Sunday, August 14, 2005

About an interest of mine

As those who know me will tell you, my main area of interest and specialty is the politics and recent history of the middle east. I'm frequently asked why I have so much interest in the region. Well, by frequently I mean whenever I choose to discuss the subject, which isn't too often since I have a lot of opinions and thoughts on the matter and don't like to seem to drone on about controversial or, worst, boring issues. I guess that's what blogs are for, eh?
Anyway, the reason for my interest in the middle east is that it's such a dynamic area. I mean, many of the governments have been stagnant for the past 50 years, but if you look on it with the only slightly larger scale of 100 years there have been amazing changes. The transition from the at least nominally united Ottoman Empire to colonial mandates and protectorates to the various independent nations has been a rocky one, and quite intellectually intriguing. What really sucked me into the area was reading about the Iranian revolution. There are not a huge amount of real popular revolutions in the history of mankind, and to see one in action (I would argue that it is far from over) is very educational.
There is still much change ahead for the region. It is both a powder keg and a place with great potential and hope. For these reasons, and others, I am captivated by the middle east. So I cannot help but to make it one of the main focuses of my writing here. Of course, as an American, I'll likely often focus on American policies in the region. I'm sure that at times I'll sound like a leftist who wants to blame all the regions problems on American actions. I must protest in advance that it will only seem so. As an American I feel that it is America's policies that it is my place to criticize. One recent NY Times editorial really angered me in its advising of Iraqis on how to write their constitution. What place is it of theirs to tell Iraqis what type of government they should have. Not that anyone writing the constitution would probably be looking to the Times for advice on the matter. I can see in the meeting "Well, what are we going to do about the enforcement of national law in the semi-autonomous north?," "Hmm, I was reading the Times today, you know Chalabi's mouthpiece, and they've got some great advise." I bet that's not happening. But my point is that I comment on American policies because that where I live. Oh yeah, and I'm certain to sound like a leftist.

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