Need For Congressional History Class
When Henry David Thoreau graduated from Harvard he refused to take his degree. “It isn’t worth five dollars,” he said. Later he overheard Emerson remarking that Harvard taught all braches of learning. “Yes indeed,” Thoreau interjected, “all of the branches and none of the roots.”
This was the introduction of an earlier blog, but Americans are easily distracted by the shallowness of the media and a short memory of history. A good understanding of the past could cause us to look more deeply into the superficial statements fed to us by politicians and experts in the media.
This cognizance reappeared while watching the national news last night. The first 3/4 of the news was saturated with the meaningless Iowa Caucus. At the end of the broadcast after the listeners were weary and bored, a 20 second clip of a clash between the Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq was aired with the comment; this could end in civil war; surprise! -surprise!
Before using our military to bring our divine democracy to other countries our war lords should have had a through understanding of the countries they are going to convert. I wrote a brief lesson of Muslim history before doing our missionary work in the Middle East and will repeat it before those whose only solution to foreign problems is war. They will soon push us into refereeing the inevitable civil wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Before Mohammad was inspired to write the Koran and convert a Pagan country to Islam the country was tribal with the tribes in constant conflict with each other. The only safe place for opposing tribes was while walking in a circle in Mecca containing 360 small statues of various Gods.
Although most Arabs and Persians became Muslims they still remained tribal. The big split in Arabia took place after Mohammad died without designating a successor. A disagreement between two political factions led to a war between the Shiites and Sunnis that split the small community of Muslims into two branches that would never reunite. The Sunnis were in the majority, but in Iraq it was the opposite. Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, controlled the Shiites with a well trained military force that we foolishly abandon in our invasion.
Extra troops in the Surge built cement block fences between the Shiite and Sunni neighborhoods but as we can see now fences don’t necessarily make good neighbors. Saddam Hussein has now been replaced by a dictatorial Shiite dynasty.
This is just a blip on the radar screen of the countries we have left to continue their historical 600 year feuds, with no end in sight.
It’s surprising that all the lawyers running our country didn’t have this knowledge before approving the costly war, financially and in human lives. It shouldn’t have been surprising after listening to the debates. In the earlier part of the war a couple of congressmen admitted that they hadn’t known about the Shiites and Sunnis before giving their approval. They were probably too busy raising money to read a history book
We are now coming to the realization that we made the same mistake in Afghanistan. After Vietnam and these two wars the public shouldn’t let our shepherds use fear in our relationship with Iran. Israel is their major enemy and we have provided them with enough military power to contain them. I have no reservations about Ron Paul’s policy of isolation, but his domestic policies would lead to Anarchy.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was right when he claimed, “In politics, what begins in fear usually ends up in folly.”