Tag Archives: Bahrain

Does the Middle East Today Look Like Europe Before WWI?

I recently saw a tweet that was rather intriguing:

If you care about international relations, this probably was rather intriguing to you, too. The part that got me interested was the comparison between what Europe looked like before WWI and what the Middle East looks like today. There’s been plenty written about the Middle East with things happening in Syria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, etc. So, I thought this post from Foreign Policy would make some interesting parallels between what Europe looked like then and what the Middle East looks like now.

Sadly, this wasn’t the case. It seemed that this brief article was more about what the strategy should be for the US in the region. While that’s probably important, I was more interested in looking at things from a historical perspective. As far as I can tell, history often repeats itself and as a result, it is one of our greatest teachers. So, if we could learn something about what happened in Europe before WWI, that might give us some indication of how things are going to proceed in the Middle East. Of course, it’d be purely speculative, but it might be enlightening.

I don’t know enough about what Europe looked like before WWI nor do I know enough about what the Middle East looks like now to make informed guesses. If I did, you can be sure that the rest of this post would have been a comparison of those two topics. The one thing I will say, though, is that I bet that if conflict does bubble over like the Admiral is *kind of* predicting might happen, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some parallels to what happened before WWI.

Are We Missing Something?

In following up on what , had a small bit on her tonight talking about all of the different parts of the Middle East that are experiencing seemingly revolutionary events. I think it’s quite amazing just how many different countries are going through similar unrest. I can’t imagine that anything like this has ever happened in history before.

A couple of weeks back I had the chance to catch a few scenes of . I had already seen the movie before, so it was less about ‘watching a movie’ and more about remembering what the movie was about. As I was watching it and experiencing having “ultimate” powers with the main character, I was struck by how narrow-minded the character was. The character (Bruce) was so focused on improving his immediate life and not exponentially or anything, just the ‘next’ promotion.

He thought that all he needed in life was this promotion and he worked his butt off (even with super powers) to get it. Eventually, the main character realizes that there’s more to life than getting that job that he thought he wanted. However, this is not quite what I’m interested in talking about today.

The character was so focused on what was in front of him that he was missing what was around him. His girlfriend at the time, played by Jennifer Aniston, had been anticipating a marriage proposal. When she thought she was about to receive the proposal, the male protagonist had called her to dinner to tell her that he had finally got the promotion that he was after. Heartbroken, she leaves him, but eventually, things all work out happily in the end.

In the world right now, there is so much happening. There are numerous reforms happening in the Middle East, there are happening all around the globe, there is political unrest in Wisconsin as the in the state that created them, but most of all, the needle of time continues to move from left to right. I wonder, with everything that’s happening in the world in here and now, what are we missing in the grander picture of Earth. What is it that we’re not seeing because we’re so caught up in what’s happening right now?

Revolution, Revolution, Everywhere!

I recently was lucky enough to bear witness to what is likely to win a number of awards at this year’s Oscars — . While the writers of the film did their best to maintain , of course, some dramatic liberties were taken. Nonetheless, I thought it was a rather smart movie and really allowed the audience to peer behind the curtains of what it was like for King George VI in the earlier part of the 1900s.

One of the things that surprised me in the film was when one of the character’s pointed out that if England were to go to war with Germany, it would mark the second world war that some of the citizens of the country would have witnessed. I can’t imagine being alive at a time such that I would have been able to see not just one world war, but two! Regardless, it reminded me that the state of our world is still not quite where I’d like it to be — peacefully — that is.

I suppose that with each passing day, something is learned, or at least I hope that’s the case. Why else would we be seeing the that we are seeing in Egypt and Tunisia? And now, countries like Bahrain and Libya are seeing what happened in nearby countries and want to stand up and be heard. I think it’s great that we are living in a time where the actions of one group in one country can affect the actions of another group in another country — instantaneously!

Without the internet and the speed at which news can travel in our modern time, I doubt that Egypt (or even Tunisia?) has the success that it did in the peaceful demonstrations. The miracle that is the internet is allowing to succeed without literal “close contact” and instead, it is close contact through social media. Things are happening really fast nowadays, wouldn’t you say?

It was only just about a month ago that the riots started happening in Tunisia. Since then, we’ve already had reform in Tunisia and an uprising and reform in Egypt. As mentioned earlier, now countries like Bahrain and Libya seem to be joining the fray as candidates for reform (although the governments of these countries, and , might not go down without a fight).

So adults living at the time of King George VI got to say, although probably not felt as a privilege, that they witnessed their country enter into two world wars. Adults living today get to say that they’ve been able to watch the fall of two governments in just under a month with the prospect of others to follow. The year 2011 is still quite green… I wonder what else oh-eleven will bring us.