What Every American Should Know About the Middle East

Hey America, read this:

middle-east.jpgMost in the United States don’t know much about the Middle East or the people that live there. This lack of knowledge hurts our ability to understand world events and, consequently, our ability to hold intelligent opinions about those events.

For example, frighteningly few know the difference between Sunni and Shia Muslims, and most think the words “Arab” and “Muslim” are pretty much interchangeable. They aren’t. So here’s a very brief primer aimed at raising the level of knowledge about the region to an absolute minimum.

It’s a pretty decent run-down of the major high points, the basic stuff most of us should know – especially considering how involved our country is in the region, and how involved all of us should be in the political process. I don’t know about the “Roman Catholics are to Shia as Protestants are to Sunni” analogy, but otherwise, a quick primer that couldn’t hurt to be learned.

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The Gaza Bombshell

Recently uncovered evidence shows that at the highest level of American leadership there were plans to spark Palestinian civil war. Read more in Vanity Fair’s The Gaza Bombshell: Politics & Power:

po01x_gaza0804.jpg After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, David Rose reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.

If we expect leaders of other nations to be held to international law, we should expect the same scrutiny for our own leaders. I would love to see the lot of them facing a tribunal in The Hague; there must be some kind of consequences for these types of actions, some kind of justice.