Tag Archives: Iraq

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.

Imagine If the USA Went to War… and No One Cared

While the title is a bit provocative, it’s not completely unsubstantiated. Right now in the United States, some veterans have waited over 600 days to hear back about their benefits… SIX HUNDRED DAYS! That’s almost two years. I shudder when people make the improper analogy between governments and businesses, but can you imagine what would happen if a business waiting 2 years to tell its employees about their benefits claims? These soldiers aren’t even the ones that are coming home right now. Logic would tell you that the veterans that are coming home today wouldn’t have to wait as long as those that have come before them… wrong. The wait time is getting longer.

I was born and raised in Canada, so my cultural perspective on joining the military and going to war is a bit different from someone who was born and raised in the United States. Nonetheless, I’ve done quite a bit of reading on the subject and the American culture’s beliefs about war and soldiers permeate… everything. The “Support our Troops” campaign was long-adopted in the USA before it was in Canada. Not to mention the way that war is glorified in TV, movies, and video games.

Given all of this, I can’t understand how a country like the United States would not properly care for their veterans returning home. It’s unfathomable. People give of their time (and become soldiers) only to return from war zones with injuries — both physical and mental. Isn’t it the obligation of the country to then properly care for those people? Shouldn’t people be chomping at the bit to help these people. These people who risked their lives for — presumably — the country’s freedoms (or to help another country assert its freedoms). Note: I realize that the last couple of sentences may spark conversation about foreign policy and the US as interventionists overseas, so I wanted to acknowledge it in this side note and redirect to the main point of taking proper care of veterans.

Last night, Rachel Maddow had on the CEO of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of AmericaPaul Rieckhoff. He’s been on the program before, but last night seemed like a special interview. I’d urge you to watch it (couldn’t embed it on WordPress, so here’s the link: Veterans appeal to Obama to step in on VA backlog) and then do something about it! Tweet about it, email your member of Congress, email your Senator, call ’em, tell your friends, tell your family, shout it from the rooftops!

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?