Vail Daily letter: Depressing landscape |

Vail Daily letter: Depressing landscape

Confusing, isn’t it? No, “depressing” is the better word to describe what appears to be the world on fire, disintegrating, regressing to primitive tribal alliances and warfare. Beheadings, crucifixions, assaults of every kind on our fellow human beings. In 1942, C.S. Lewis may have correctly cautioned that there is, in fact, a great struggle in our universe between good and evil, and, unfortunately for us, earth is in “enemy held territory.” ISIS is proof. So, how do we lead the resistance movement?

The web of connectivity between current world struggles is almost impossible to understand for most of us who never studied Middle East history after learning that the area between the Tigress and Euphrates rivers was “the cradle of civilization.” “Civil” hardly applies today. Religion, co-opted so often, is a culprit. We’re aware of Christian splits, but we don’t get today’s visceral sectarian hatred among Sunni, Shia, Turkmen, Alawite and other sects. (We do get that we support Israel.) Pour oil on that sectarian hatred. Add to that drilling and consumption by the West. The old colonial powers’ and our fingerprints are all over the place as we support our Middle Eastern “friends” whom we made rich with oil exploration and money.

“Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive!” — Sir Walter Scott

Holding hands with Saudi kings, Sunni kings; partnering sub-rosa with Shiite Iran to fight Sunni Taliban; creating a grand deception to eliminate Sunni Saddam Hussein, which strengthened Shiite Iran’s power over our post-Afghanistan Taliban enemy whom we must prevent from developing nuclear weapons; condemning Shiite Assad in Syria, who gains from our attacking fanatic Sunni ISIS who are fighting him; the installation of a Shiite Iraqi prime minister, Maliki, who ruthlessly blocked any possibility of a unity government that included groups he needed desperately to hold the place together, Sunnis and Kurds. (Did we ever consider that Maliki lived in Iran as an exile?) Obviously, all the work we did, all the training we gave, the trillions of dollars we spent, I hesitate with heavy heart to even mention the lives we lost and the injuries we sustained — were in support of a false hope, the Maliki government. At least now, through U.S. and some Arab leadership, Maliki is gone and there is a slim chance of Iraq’s factions coming together to govern.

Thank heavens for the Kurds who actually are pro-American. They happen to be primarily Sunni with a substantial smattering of Sunnis and Sufis, but not radical Sunni enough to meet ISIS’s fanatic criteria. So, they are in terrible danger, we are helping them, and they can fight. Where do we turn? What do we do? I, for one, am grateful that we do not have a U.S. administration that sings the “bomb, bomb, bomb…bomb, bomba, bomb” mantra. If we need to bomb, we must be selective. I, for one, completely support fighting ISIS, the malevolent scourge. I, for one, want to support a coalition of nations that includes the United States “where,” as Tom Friedman says in the Sept. 3 New York Times, “everyone (including NATO allies) who has a stake in stability there (the Middle East) pays their share and where mainstream Sunnis and Shiites take the lead by demonstrating that they hate ISIS more than they hate each other.” Finally, what are we as a people willing to do? After we send our troops (if we do), and spend our treasure to fight and destroy ISIS, what do we do next?

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How do we decode “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” so that when “the current enemy” is eliminated, “my friend” does not become my next enemy? What do we want to do with the Czar Putin problem in Ukraine whose age-old Russian goal is an empire that includes “windows to the sea.” And the China problem. And Libya. And Somalia. And Central America. And a broken American Congress. Yes, “depressing” is the right descriptor.

Katha Hartley


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