super hanc petram

Saturday, November 13

Where Lewis Went Wrong  

Much fat to chew within this Washington Monthly article by Michael Hirsh. As a companion piece to William Darymple's look at where Lewis went wrong with medieval Hellenic history, we now have the beginnings of a cogent non-Lewis-slanted history (past and modern) pushing its way into the mainstream. From Hirsh:
"Modern Arab anger and frustration is, in fact, less than a hundred years old. As bin Laden knows very well, this anger is a function not of Islam's humiliation at the Treaty of Carlowitz of 1699—the sort of long-ago defeat that Lewis highlights in his bestselling What Went Wrong—but of much more recent developments. These include the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement by which the British and French agreed to divvy up the Arabic-speaking countries after World War I; the subsequent creation, by the Europeans, of corrupt, kleptocratic tyrannies in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and Jordan; the endemic poverty and underdevelopment that resulted for most of the 20th century; the U.N.-imposed creation of Israel in 1948; and finally, in recent decades, American support for the bleak status quo."
This discussion is vitally important because our current foreign policy is controlled entirely by Lewisites. This is why so many of our troops are being killed unnecessarily in Iraq. It is, in fact, a fundamental misunderstanding of the Middle East and the Arab Mind. Most troubling, though, is that as far as I can tell, Lewis et al. don't get everything completely wrong. That is, Lewis doesn't put forward false events in his histories, he's just drawing the wrong conclusions and focusing on the wrong events. However, when such misreadings are literally writ large upon a region and its peoples, the ramifications are dire for years if not decades. Indeed as this article points out and Bin Laden (and others) has been telling us for several years now, al Nakba is far more important than the Battle of the Nile. If we are to make significant headway against both terrorism and the corrupt regimes in the Middle East, we must gain a greater understanding of What Actually Went Wrong.


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