Monday, May 08, 2006

Sprout Speaks

Some of y'all may have noticed that Sprout (patsbrother) sometimes has some things to say and he uses the comments threads of other people's posts to say them. What strikes me as odd is that he has been invited to be a contributor of posts on this blog, yet he doesn't post, he comments. This is the end of that era (for good or ill).

Today, the young man took exception to comments made on this post about Iran and the Middle East and how the United States should be involved. His sticking point:

My problem with people randomly using hyperbole as fact regarding the Middle East: ignorance ain't going to help create a solution, and when those that should know better play fast and loose with what sounds like facts, our problems get bigger.

After 9/11, one thing that really got my blood boiling was a Wolf Blitzer site on cnn.com called "Middle East 101: Centuries of Conflict". It's focus was on Arab-Israeli relations. Which started with the Arab Revolt in 1929, when Palestinians got pissed off the British consistently enforced laws against them in favor of Zionists, and failed to enforce laws against Zionists in favor of them. Before that, oh, you have to skip to wars fought by the Ottoman Empire some 300 years before (which, dear readers, I hope you realize has nothing to do with Isreal).

If you're rolling you eyes, saying come on, I will point out that the implication - THESE people have been fighting for thousands of years, that's all they know, they're just troublemakers - is false, unhelpful, and prevalent. I refer you to my father.

That's why (call it semantics if you want) I get annoyed when someone who purports to have an encyclopedic knowledge of world history makes an unsubstantiated statement that plays up stereotypes that it would be in all our best interests to dispell.

So Pat, I have made this the topic of this thread. Now, inform us what problems Iran/Persia caused the United States before the past century.

6:52 PM

3 comments:

Patrick Armstrong said...

The statement that has so irked you regarding this topic is a matter mainly of semantics. What I presented was my opinion in response to someone else's question.

SAWB:"paT, you seem to think that the troubles with Iran started in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected in a landslide against one Jimmy Carter."

To which I specifically responded: "Well, I don't think our troubles with Iran started in the '80s, (or even the 20th Century for that matter) but I think our behavior since the 80's has exacerbated the problems with Iran, and through them the Middle East."

Those are all things that I do indeed think, and I don't really need to justify every single opinion I have every time I speak. There is no presentation of opinion as fact to be had there, so I don't understand why you would lump me in with individuals like Wolf Blitzer, who indeed try to present information as wholly and factually accurate for a headline.

I presented opinions as opinions, and even then you still seek to call me out for simplifications.

I do not think our troubles with Iran/Persia started in the 1980s with the Reagan administration. I do not think they started in the 1950s when the controversial Operation Ajax was conducted in Iran. The reasons I don't think the trouble started there is because I do not beleive that history is a static thing.

Now, before WWII the United States and what would become Iran may not have had much contact, but the actions and tensions of tertiary powers had lasting influence on both nations. I think that our problems originated there, and affect us today.

During the interwar period, when the United States chose isolationism, the Great Powers and Japan divided up the world for themselves. Iran/Persia became a protectorate or client state of the British Empire, who also gained present day Iraq and Palestine/future Israel.

During WWI, Iran/Persia was invaded by both the British and the Russians, one nominal and one staunch American ally.

In the mid-1800's the British Empire launched invasions of Afganistan from their protectorate of Iran/Persia. These actions (as well as other maintenance of their Empire) could have been one tertiary reason the British never recognized the Confederate States of America and involve themselves militarily in the American Civil War. At the same time, these invasions by the British from Iran/Persia - as well as events such as the Crimean War against the Ottoman Empire - created further strife between the Shia Iranian/Persians and their Sunni neighbors on all sides.

The Ottoman Empire's waning days before WWI, and the strife that caused in Eastern Europe, put millions of Greeks, Albanians, Slavs, Serbs, Czechs, Slovakians, Turks and Russians on boats destined for Ellis Island and American shores. Iranian/Persian wars with the Ottomans from the East only encouraged the Ottoman decline.

It is not only the strife between Iran/Persia and the United States that you must look to, but the United States and the West as Christian nations vs Muslim nations of the East. The United State's first war on foreign soil was against the Barbary Pirates of the Northern Mediterranean - nominally subjects of the Ottoman Empire - who had been taking American ships and sailors. Though Iran/Persia was not involved directly, they were Muslims at a formative time when American sailors and Muslim sailors were killing each other on the high seas.

Jefferson was President then.

I do not think history is static, and I think nations can have problems with each other whether they realize it or not - through their allies, through their enemies, through their attitudes. That is my opinion. I do not try to pass it off as fact, but as my opinion.

patsbrother said...

Oooh, 6 Degrees of Old Persia. Let's see if I can play this too...

1. The US dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

2. Albert Einstein's theories helped push America forward in the race to obtain a nuclear weapon.

3. Albert Einstein maybe kind of knew Winston Churchill.

4. Winston Churchill admired T.E. Lawrence.

5. T.E. Lawrence helped free Arabia of Ottoman rule.

6. The Ottoman Empire used to rule Persia, now Iran.

Gee, there really is something to this atomic hoo-ha! Iran caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Japanese through the use of an atomic bomb! Wow! Non-static history really works!

patsbrother said...

That part about Einstein maybe kind of knowing Winston Churchill - that's just my opinion. But you all know there are no factual assertions implicit in any statement regarding history!