18 January 2008

Has Bush gone completely freaking crazy?

What kind of a man saunters into a neighbourhood and tries to turn neighbour against neighbour? And then provides guns to one of the neighbours? And does all this in the most volatile neighbourhood in the world? A mad man? A psychopath? This is certainly more than simple trouble-making. This is evil. Yet this is exactly what U.S. President George W. Bush has been doing in the Middle East: Encouraging the Persian Gulf Arabs to "confront" Iran while peddling a multibillion-dollar arms deal to them, including advanced weaponry for the misogynists who rule Saudi Arabia.

While Bush makes his mischief, the Gulf states attempt to improve relationships. For example, Saudi Arabia recently invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the annual hajj pilgrimage, an honour Ahmadinejad gracefully accepted. That old peace-maker trade continues to flourish in the area driven by merchant families with members in both Iran and Arab states, despite American efforts to discourage these age-old patterns. The United Arab Emirates are the repository of hundreds of millions of dollars of Iranian investment. Historical ethnic and economic ties between the Gulf Arabs and Iran cry out for peace in the region.

But it is not only in the interests of the residents that we have calm in the Gulf. It is in the interests of all of us.

And does the Bush administration believe that Saudi Arabia is a safe place to deposit billions of dollars worth of arms? The country is seething with extremists in government and without. Have they forgotten where most of the 9/11 bombers came from? Have they forgotten the result of arming the mujahideen in Afghanistan? Have they forgotten the result of arming America's former ally Saddam Hussein? Does the word "blowback" not resonate in their ears? Do the Americans ever learn?

They are engaged in folly. We can only hope the Arabs will show more sense and spare the world yet another blood bath in the region. We might also hope the next president of the United States will consider finally relieving his nation of the white man's burden.

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