Thursday, August 8th, 2021

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


One of the joys of my early life was to study English Literature at Cambridge in England back in the early 1960s. Nobel prize author and poet Rudyard Kipling was an early favorite. He did not bog the reader down with dense symbolism and complexity. He was easy to understand.  Born in India, Kipling was tagged as the “Poet of the British Empire. It just might be a good idea for Republicans and Democrats, who fall over themselves espousing America’s continuing role in the Middle East, to take a breather and read a little Kipling.

“Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,

Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat.”

Kipling expressed his concerns of imperialism in his book, The Man Who Would Be King, which was made into one of my favorite movies. In it, Sean Connery loses his head attempting to bring his western values to a remote mountain vastness called Kafiristan. Michael Caine is left alive to crawl back to civilization and bring the message to the West — “quit trying to convert and save us” in the Middle East.

America has commanded a major presence throughout the Middle East for the past 60 years for one major reason. No, a singular reason. Oil. It was in our economic interest to remake the Muslim world by the B and B method. Bribing and Bombing. In the 1980s, U.S. interests were served by pouring money and weapons into Afghanistan in support of Islamic radicals who were trying to expel the Russians. Then our one-time allies turned on us, and the initial seeds of al-Qaeda were sown, and America has been in a quagmire ever since.

In the last decade, we plunged into Iraq, where there was initially only a minor al-Qaeda presence. But the quixotic U.S. invasion poured gasoline onto the anti U.S. fire, causing the death of some 6700 American soldiers, leaving a country in shambles, with not one barrel of oil confiscated in this wasted effort. Then it was on to Afghanistan, and again, for no apparent reason.  (But al-Qaeda is lurking!)  Osama bin Laden is dead but his effort to bog down the U.S. in endless Middle East wars is right on target.

Writing in the British newspaper The Guardian, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad concluded, “The maelstrom of anti-western violence in the Arab world has little to do with anti-Islam propaganda. It has more to do with decades of perceived western imperialism. Barack Obama‘s Arab honeymoon was squandered by drone attacks on Pakistan and Yemen.”

Drone attacks he points out are used to get rid of the bad guys.  And yes, we need to get rid of the bad guys.  But as children’s book author Dr. Paul Craig Roberts points out in a recent Trends Journal article:

“Washington’s assaults on seven countries have blown up weddings, funerals, kids’ soccer games, farmhouses, hospitals, aid workers, schools, people walking along the streets, village elders, but the Muslims don’t mind! They understand that the well-meaning Americans, who love them and are committed to their human rights, are bringing them democracy and women’s rights. The million or more dead, maimed, and displaced Muslims are a low price to be paid for liberation by Washington.”

Do you catch his sarcasm? This is the way a delusional Washington works, The Middle East has been in turmoil for over 2000 years. And just about everyone has attempted to control this part of the world over the course of history. The Egyptians, Turks, Jews, Romans, Arabs, Persians, Europeans…the list goes on — none with any degree of long-term success.

Afghanistan has fallen into outright civil war as American pulls out after 20 years of ineptitude, while Republicans and Democrats alike are scratching the heads as to what went wrong. Meanwhile, party gridlock in Washington has brought any sense of responsible governing to a standstill.  Are we observing a freak show or what?

In the nation’s history, there has always been the loyal opposition by the political party out of power that served as a check and balance — a good thing. But there was still a sense on the part of both parties that some cooperation was needed to make progress and move the county forward. We saw such cooperation across party lines under Reagan in the 80s and Clinton in the 90s.

Then came 9/11, and after a short-lived euphoria of rallying the nation together, both parties saw an opportunity for political gain. Gridlock seeped in, and during the past ten years cooperative effort between the Republicans and Democrats has been non-existent. Over 90% of the members of congress profess to be Christians. Yet those we elected to lead have given little credence to the words of Jesus in Mathew 12:25. “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.”

This unforgiving war has cost 4500 U.S. soldiers their lives, wounded more than 40,000 of them, and an additional 45,000 troops have returned home with mental and physical problems, and cost over $1 trillion. And what do we have to show for it? Afghanistan is in ruins, and the political chaos becomes worse as each week passes.

We were conned by Republicans and Democrats alike when both parties told us our goal should be to reshape Afghanistan into America’s image, and democracy could and should be exported throughout the Middle East. Nation building in the Arab world? What a joke. We have created this monster of anarchy that seems to be spreading like wildfire.  

 The Iraq issue has been bungled from the beginning. Let’s just hope and pray that both parties will put aside their petty partisan differences and try to find some way out of this unfathomable and intolerable crisis.

From all this turmoil, there are lessons to be learned, especially for the U.S.  First, make a massive effort to become independent of Middle Eastern oil. Second, read more Kipling. In his novel, The Naulahka, he writes:

“And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased,

“And the epitaph drear: ‘A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.’”

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at




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