It requires a strong grasp of reality to deal with the Middle East. The classic story is of the frog and the scorpion on the bank of the Nile. The scorpion asked the frog to convey him to the other side, the frog demurred: “You will sting me to death in the middle of the river.” “No,” said the scorpion, “That would kill me as well.” So the frog agreed and they set out across the Nile. In the middle, the frog felt the scorpion’s sting and as both began to sink, asked why the scorpion had doomed them both? “I don’t know,” the scorpion said. “This is the Middle East.”
Replace frog and scorpion with Sunni and Shia Moslemsl; behind them Sunnis, line up Arab tribes; behind the Shia, line up Iranian Persians. Sweeten the mix with ignorance and poverty. Toss in a match labeled: “Israel.” Stand well back.
Now, it seems that we may add nuclear weapons for Iraq, brokered by America’s President Obama. In reaction, Saudi Arabia announced that it will no longer eschew nukes itself. (It can hardly afford to leave Iran with the only nuclear arms, given their centuries of struggle)
President Obama has been looking for his memorial; it appears that he will be remembered for setting off the second round of the nuclear arms race. An appropriate palm leaf cluster for his Nobel Peace Medal? God, or whomever you prefer to blame for cosmic jokes, must be laughing His head off.
Just now, Iran’s proxy Shia Yemenis are taking over Yemen. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and several other Sunni Arab constituencies have invaded Yemen to stop that. Iran is threatening. But the U.S. and E.U. are supporting the invasion; there isn’t much Iran can do and it is gaining its nukes and doesn’t, we presume, wish to jeopardize that.
The question now becomes, not what will happen in Yemen (who cares?) but what will happen in Islam. Will the Sunni/Shia combat spread, or stay in the Middle East? It is at bottom, a reaction against modernity, an intolerable presence to seriously doctrinal Moslems. (And to such Christians, too?)
Islamic civilization seems to be self destructing of its own contradictions in the face of modernity at a price of increasing amounts of blood. In the West, the same seems true of its founding Christianity, with less bleeding involved. Well, unless you count aborted babies …
On a wider scale, our species seems to be tearing down the major structures upon which it has erected its primary civilizations. Any replacement structure is as yet not obvious. That we are leaving behind that which has upheld us seems obvious. Quo vadis, domine?