Saturday, September 09, 2006

Introduction to Middle East Reality


Most people in the West do a very poor job empathizing with people in the Middle East outside of Israel.

Part racism, - not all racism but part and it serves no purpose to deny that - part cognitive dissonance, part wishful thinking there may be many reasons. But most commentators consistently get the region wrong. Not just the idiots like Tom Friedman, but even the smart people like Juan Cole and Billmon over at Whiskey Bar.

In this blog, I hope to one by one dissect the many myths held by too many commentators. There is no serious rivalry between Shiite and Sunni per se; Iran has no interest in either an Iraqi civil war or an Iranian satellite in Iraq; The United States and Israel have no interest in avoiding an Iraqi civil war if the alternative is the democratic government the Iraqis voted for; The Iranian regime is not despised by 70% or more of Iranians. Things like that.

One thing I plan to do is make predictions so that it will be possible to test my beliefs against other published beliefs about the Middle East. Whereever it is possible to use polling data I always will. I wish the people of the Middle East were polled as often as people in a contentious region of this importance should be polled and I wish these polls were made more available in English but alas, there will be times when no poll data is available. All I'll be able to do in that case is guess - but we'll see how I do.

OK. Let's get started.

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