Thursday, April 7, 2016

Reflection 6 - US Involvement in the Middle East

It is no secret that foreign relations between the United States and the Middle East have increasingly become more complicated and complex within the last 15 years, especially after the events of 9/11. While 9/11 served as the 'stimulus' for changing US foreign policy in the Middle East, other factors such as the Gulf Wars and US invasions into Arab countries clearly have also intensified tension between both sides, which have developed into many other problems that needs resolution. Some of these problems include the rise of attacks by radical Islamic groups ISIS throughout Europe and the Middle East, which have caused the world to view the Arabs world and its people and religion in a different, negative light. Consequently, controversial opinions and views of Arabs and Muslims are being expressed everyday in the news and social media because of the violent actions of a small selected group of radical extremists. In a way, it is logical to question why is there so much hostility from the Arab world towards the West, or to simply put it - "why do they hate us?"
Many radical (and uninformed) Westerners often believe in this idea that the Muslims who attack the Western world because "they hate us." Not only is it problematic that the statement of "them hating us" is vague in determine who "them" and "us" refers to, but also it is just too simple, such that "they" can't just hate "us" for no reason whatsoever and there must be some sort of reasoning behind this hostility. It is seen frequently in Western media of just terrorist attacks reports in Western countries by radical islamic groups, which the majority of the public only pays attention to when regarding to news associated with the Middle East. However when it comes to US foreign policies and relations, or any other interaction with that area of the world, it seems that the general public suddenly have no interest in that type of news of involvement. Because there's a disregard any other news, it forms a misconception of the subject because the whole situation is not known. 
Its not that they hate us just because they can, but its because the US has provided support of weapons and aid to Arab dictators, which their actions and decisions have been known to violate basic human rights. The US has invaded many parts of the Arab world and initiated what seems like pointless wars. They have established military bases in Saudi Arabia and maintained their presence, even after they promised to leave after a certain amount of time. The US have also greatly contributed to militarizing the Middle East, such as providing military aid to radical extremists and Israel, which have lead to more conflicts. With Israel receiving 40% of all US military aid, the Israelis have greatly taken advantage of this aid in their conflict with Palestine by maintaining power and occupation over the Arabs. Aid to Israel from the US have gone back into history as far as the 1920s or 30s, and their aid allowed Israel to develop its own army and institutions that eventually lead to establish its own state and the occupation of Palestine. Since then, the conflict have escalated to new heights. While peace talks and resolution plans have been issued throughout the years, but none have been successful because Israel continues to violate them anyways. 
While US involvement and presence have lead to drastic results with their foreign policies, the US have also affected the Arab world culturally. US globalization have established its presence in the Middle East with US products, ideas, and other aspects of culture, but it seems that these entities are only available to the elite and upper class and no one else. Because those can afford it, they are able consume US products. While these products are the norm in the West, it is a hypocrisy of values in the Arab world. 

Dr. Leahy's lecture was extremely informative about the current relations between the US and the Middle East and brought up many good points to think about regarding to this subject. It clearly explains why both sides act and respond to each in the way that they do, such as reasons why the Middle East might "hate us." Being informed about ongoing events of US and Middle East relations is important in attempting to come up with solutions to moving forward alleviate hostility.

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