Jeffrey Ludwigwas formerly a teaching fellow in American history and literature at Harvard University, and served on the Editorial Board of the Harvard Educational Review. He has also taught at Penn State, Boston State College, and Juniata College and was listed four times in Who’s Who Among America’s High School Teachers.
Caroline Glick, a master of Middle Eastern cultural and political affairs, has developed a brief but forceful overview of the dynamics of the complex negotiations that are going on and have been going on for years between and among the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Iran, China, Israel, Russia, and other impacted nation-states.
In the background of these meetings that project endless scenarios for the benefit of the concerned parties stands the United Nations which was originally conceived as a world body that would bring conflicts under a united peacekeeping effort that would be respected by the member nation-states. However, the UN has been standing on the sidelines as bilateral, trilateral, and multilateral meetings and negotiations have been taking place among affected parties in the Middle East and elsewhere.
So, for example, the UN condemned the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, but has stood on the sidelines helplessly huffing and puffing its displeasure while that war proceeds. This helplessness is largely because Russia is on the Security Council and is thus able to veto any actions taken against Russia. Yet, at the same time, the UN keeps up its dogged connection with world government advocates and a few short years ago unanimously agreed upon Agenda 2030 which establishes the goals for a world government, although the words “world government” do not appear in the Agenda document.
It is incredible to see how many liars and phonies occupy center stage in our world. We can see this clearly as we put the microscope of analysis over the procedures and policies of the Middle Eastern power brokers.
Iran and Saudi Arabia ostensibly represent two “branches” of Islam – the former representing the Shi’ite branch and the latter the leading country of the Sunni branch. These two factions have been warring with each other for over 1400 years, but they both have in common contempt for the non-Islamic world. This is true even though their great oil wealth would not be possible without the input and engineering know-how of the non-Islamic world – the oil companies – who knew how to find and develop the great energy wealth of the Islamic world. These two competing Arab cultures lived in backwards isolation for centuries while the West grew in knowledge, wealth, health, and power. We now depend on their oil, but they depend on the cash flow and prestige that their oil brings into their societies.
Glick in a recent article has embraced the idea of negotiations as the path to resolving the issues that beset the world and the Middle East. The idea of negotiations leading to an official agreement or treaty has a long and dignified history – it is fundamentally based on a model of rational discourse and the balancing of national interests with common interests. Willingness to compromise is an essential feature of said negotiations. The military strength of the negotiating partners is of course also weighted into the negotiation equation, and more powerful entities such as the USA, the PRC, or Russia may thrust themselves into negotiations among less militarily able countries. This intrusion of great powers into negotiations among weaker parties is of course portrayed as accelerating the peace process and assuring more successful completion of negotiations. But, at another level, it is an aspect of realpolitik where larger powers assert control and make sure that less powerful entities continue to kiss their proverbial a****.
Because of the takeover of Iran by the bloodthirsty ayatollahs in 1979, and their subsequent taking of American hostages, the USA became very much anti-Iran. Iran’s Muslim, ayatollah-governed country believed in the Shi’ite branch of Islam while the Saudis and most of the Muslim world are Sunnis. Their dispute – from almost the founding of Islam to this day – is about the basis for the line of succession to leadership in the Islamic world after the death of Muhammed. After 1979, we tended to support the Saudis and the Sunni faction in the Islamic world which is much larger than the Shi’ite faction. Thus, until President Barack Obama decided to change our orientation and “make peace” with the Iranian Shi’ites, we faced some serious aggressions by Iran, and despite the Obama and Biden overtures, we still do.
In 1983, American marines were attacked by Iranian-backed terrorists in Beirut, Lebanon and 240 of our heroic armed forces were killed. Then in 1996 Americans were killed in an attack on the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Although Iran was officially blamed by a U.S. District Court for the Khobar attack, this writer believes there was probably some Saudi complicity. After the attack, the Saudis refused to extradite those arrested for the attack.
During the years 1980 to 1988, war was waged between Iran and Iraq, and the USA was on the side of Iraq and Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s military dictator. However, it was more of a strategic alliance to protect the West’s Iraqi oil interests and not a de facto embrace of the cruel and despotic Hussein. As the saying goes, politics makes strange bedfellows.
Also, in the 1980’s we saw the hijacking of ships and planes by Islamic terrorists on a regular basis until finally President Ronald Reagan bombed the terrorist training camps in Libya and brought an end to that phase of Islamic terrorism.
Then, on September 11, 2001 we experienced the worst attack on America in our history with the hijacking of three domestic jet flights with one plane crashing itself into the Pentagon, two others purposely crashing into the World Trade Center in New York City, and a fourth plane forced to crash in Pennsylvania killing all the passengers on the plane. Of the 19 hijackers, 16 were from Saudi Arabia.
Fast forward to March of this year. The Saudis and the Iranians decided to bury the hatchet and made a deal brokered by China. This deal may reduce tensions in Yemen between Shi’ites and Sunnis. The two factions put on a good face of burying the hatchet. Yet, we see that when it comes to hating the non-Islamic world, they have both been on the same page for a long time.
There is intractable unity of the Islamic world in its hatred of the non-Islamic world. This hatred has over time superseded the longstanding and deep differences between Islamic factions. Then there are the differences within the Islamic world where the factions try to get the most money and concessions from more powerful nations in the West, and recently from China to advance their respective power mad and greedy agendas. The West seems to treat this level -- which we can call “rational self-interest” – as though it were the only level.
However, the deeper level is the level of fanaticism. Live and let live is just not part of Islam. The Judaic commandment to "Love thy neighbor" is an essential principle of Christianity upon which the West was founded; yet dark murderous themes eventually emerged and we had two world wars. Islam was more violent than Christianity from its beginnings and remains violent in its essence. Negotiations are inherently unworkable and superficial.