16 April 2007

Pork You, Mr. President (BR)
GOP Congress spent millions on non-military projects in past appropriations bills

As the debate rages on between Capitol Hill and the White House over the military appropriations bill currently being hammered out between the two Houses of Congress, President Bush has stuck to the narrative that he will veto anything but a "clean bill" that comes across his desk. "Clean" means in this case no timeline for withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq, and no "pork" spending on projects unrelated to defense spending.

I decided to investigate the pork angle, as Bush and Republicans in Congress mention it in the same breath as the withdrawal deadline whenever asked. Much has been made over the allotment of a few million dollars of the $80 billion or so for things like economic relief to spinach farmers and the storage of peanuts.

The objection appears fishy off the bat, as the president and his party spent the people's money like drunken Democrat sailors during the last four years when the GOP controlled Congress. They passed a Medicare prescription drug bill to the tune of half a trillion dollars (and counting) in 2004, a bill that did not provide health insurance to a single American who wasn't already covered by federal programs, but did help old men get discount Viagra. This was no isolated event: From bridges to nowhere to tax giveaways for multinational corporations, the last two Congresses were not the tightwads they now claim to be.

But if it took last November's brutal ass-kicking by Democrats to get the GOP to find religion and start listening to their constituents again, I'd be all for it. Unfortunately, every military appropriations bill passed by the 108th and 109th Congresses and signed by President Pennypincher himself was riddled with what would certainly be classified as "pork" if proposed by Democrats today. And Bush has made clear that he will be using the unrelated spending in this year's bill as one of the main bases for a veto that will deny American troops on the ground the funding they need to fight and defend themselves while they're stuck in the crossfire of a bloody civil war.

Skeptics can examine the text of H.R. 1268 as agreed to by the House and Senate for FY 2005 in the section marked "TITLE VI--GENERAL PROVISIONS AND TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS." The purpose of this section is to increase funds made available in previously passed, unrelated legislation. Here are some highlights:
SEC. 6006. Section 219(f)(30) of the Water Resources Development Act of 1992 (106 Stat. 4835; 106 Stat. 3757; 113 Stat. 334) is amended by striking `$20,000,000' and inserting `$55,000,000' in lieu thereof, and by striking `treatment' and inserting `infrastructure' in lieu thereof
For the ADD-afflicted, that means the government increased funding to the water board of Desoto County, Mississippi by $35 million, and changed the mandate for dispensation of those funds from the specific purpose of "treatment" (we assume that refers to water, and not weekend plastic surgery) to a more general "infrastructure."
SEC. 6007. Section 325(f)(1)(A) of Public Law 106-541 is modified by striking `$20,000,000' and inserting in lieu thereof `$25,000,000'.
That's a $5 million bump for those brave salmon and trout fighting the war on terror in the fish farms of Big Sky country. God bless 'em.
SEC. 6010. In division C, title I of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005 (Public Law 108-447), the item relating to Corps of Engineers--Civil, Construction, General, is amended by inserting before the period at the end the following: `: Provided further, That of the funds made available herein for Ohio Environmental Infrastructure, $500,000 shall be used for the Liberty Little Squaw Creek sewer upgrade and $1,000,000 shall be used for the Lake County, Concord Township sanitary sewer line improvement[.]
I'd just like to take this moment to remind readers that this text is from a bill titled Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005
SEC. 6014. ...
What is it with Republicans and spending defense money on fish?
SEC. 6032. Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the National Park Service is authorized to expend appropriated funds for the construction, operations and maintenance of an expansion to the West Yellowstone Visitor Information Center to be constructed for visitors to, and administration of, Yellowstone National Park.
Perhaps part of a plan to give terrorists bad directions so they can't blow up our geysers and mountains.

Also, the government was nice enough to use our defense bill to let their buddies in industry wreck just a few more acres of what's left of our natural landscape:
SEC. 6034. (a) The Secretary of the Interior shall allow the State of Mississippi, its lessees, contractors, and permittees, to conduct, under reasonable regulation not inconsistent with extraction of the oil and gas minerals reserved by the State of Mississippi in the deed referenced in subsection (b):

(1) exploration, development and production operations on sites outside the boundaries of Gulf Islands National Seashore that use directional drilling techniques which result in the drill hole crossing into the Gulf Islands National Seashore and passing under any land or water the surface of which is owned by the United States, including terminating in bottom hole locations thereunder; and

(2) seismic and seismic-related exploration activities inside the boundaries of Gulf Islands National Seashore to identify the oil and gas minerals located within the boundaries of the Gulf Islands National Seashore under the surface estate conveyed by the State of Mississippi, all of which oil and gas minerals the State of Mississippi reserved the right to extract.
There's more in this and other bills. You may visit THOMAS, the Library of Congress' online database, to explore.

Unlike elected officials, I don't have any problem, real or pretend, with the concept of pork spending. Fish need to be hatched, water needs to be treated, tourists in Yellowstone need to be told not to poke their heads inside Old Faithful. I get it. I'm uncomfortable with the employment by House leaders of unrelated federal spending to whip Democrats in line to get it passed in the first place.

But Republicans fearful of losing votes because of growing discontent within their own ranks over the war need to be straight with their base. The cold truth is that the President's coming veto of this year's defense appropriations bill will be a denial of funds to our troops in Iraq because of a withdrawal timeline which he finds unacceptable. It has nothing to do with pork spending. Nothing. If it did, Bush would have vetoed every appropriations bill passed by Congress in the last five years.

06 April 2007

The Infidel's Guide to the Middle East
Section V: The Gayatollah, Sodomy Hussein, and Ronald Reaganhomosexualman


When we last left off, America was spreading freedom in the Middle East by deposing a democratically elected official in Iran so that the authoritarian monarch they had put into power could rule even more absolutely. This set the stage for any old religious nut to rise to power by voicing the dissent of the people and, not so much breaking, but more like pawing at the shackles of oppression. However, it was not just any old religious nut answered the call… It was the old religious nut of the century.

Shi’ite leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (he’s the “ayatollah” in that Billy Joel song) used his religious power to speak out against Shah Pahlavi, verbally donkey-punching him every change he got. He publicly spoke out against the Shah’s White Revolution, a series of unforgivable and inhumane reform programs, such as enabling women to vote, redistributing the farmland of feudal lords to their slaves, fighting illiteracy, preserving national forests, and worst of all, giving free food to needy mothers and their children. Khomeini opposed all these programs, calling them anti-Islamic, and denounced the Shah as a Western puppet. It has been suggested that Khomeini’s opposition to this program of reforms was actually in response to one reform in particular: a restriction on the amount of property the Shi’ite clergy could own. Under this criticism, it is important to remember that Khomeini was a religious figure; things like money and property don’t motivate religious figures.

Eventually, Khomeini was exiled from Iran because he just wouldn’t shuttup. He went abroad to various different countries, most notably Iraq, where he was also exiled from because he just wouldn’t shuttup.

In his absence, his unshuttupable message lived on. By the late 70s, the public demonstrations/riots/orgies against the Shah grew so extreme that, in January of 1979, the Shah left the country and never returned, with the official reports stating he went “on vacation.” Presumably, he was having so much fun this vacation that he simply forgot about the revolution in his homeland. Fifteen days later, Khomeini came back from exile to millions of Iranians celebrating his return. Khomeini then asked to “borrow” the Iranian constitution, saying that he needed it to help his niece with a school report. The Majlis—Iranian parliament—was of course suspicious, since little girls were forbidden to read or even learn. When Khomeini returned the constitution, the Majlis were surprised to find that their proud Iranian republic was now a religious theocracy, and that Khomeini now held the main office, a position he invented for himself called “Supreme Leader.”

In November of that year, a group of liberal college-students invaded and captured the U.S. embassy, having gotten the idea during a rousing game of “Asshole.” The 63 Americans inside were taken hostage, and after the release of women and blacks,(1) 52 remained for the duration of the crisis. When he heard of the capture, Khomeini famously responded “Fuckin’ Awesome!”

President Jimmy Carter responded quickly and effectively to this attack on American dignity by sticking his thumb two-digits deep into his anus. Luckily, and in keeping with the theme of this blog, war saves the day.

The only country that hated Iran more than the U.S. was Iraq. This was partly because of the Sunni-Shi’ite tension, partly because of the Khomeini-Saddam rivalry (back when he was Vice-President, Saddam was the one who ordered Khomeini’s exile from Iraq), and partly because of their shared borders. In actuality, though, the real reason Iraq and Iran hated each other was that damn one-letter difference in their names.

What began as a gentle and good-natured hatred, manifested only in loving border disputes, became a savage war when Khomeini—crazed by his new power and drunk off his love for Allah—tried to persuade Iraqi Shi’ites to revolt against Saddam Hussein’s regime. Saddam responded by taking off his beret of compassion and diplomacy, and putting on his beret of aggression and war, which ironically was more flamboyant and gayer than the first.

Of course, months earlier the U.S. fed Saddam exaggerated information about how weak and easily defeatable Iran’s military was. Before condemning the U.S.’s tactics, you try spending billions of dollars on a country just to have them revolt and take 52 of your citizens hostage. That shit stings!

So, America tried its best to produce a realistic-sounding gasp when the world found out that Iraq invaded Iran. By 1981, the Iranians were so involved in the war that they struck a deal with America and released the hostages. By 1982, the entire world was bored with the War of the Ira_s, as it soon became a gruesome stalemate, and instead turned their attention to the groundbreaking TV show Family Ties.

Enter our hero, Ronald Reagan. The former-actor president now had the opportunity to play the finest role of his career: The Guy Who Fucked Over The Middle East. And like a good actor, he immersed himself in this role, first by giving Saddam lots and lots of money, saving Iraq from bankruptcy—and essentially Saddam’s job. He followed that by giving Iraq lots and lots of weapons, which a decade later they would use to kill Americans. (2)

Lest you get the wrong idea of Reagan, he didn’t just fund corrupt terrorist governments. He also funded small terrorist groups. In 1979, the U.S.S.R. invaded Afghanistan, in reaction to their successful democratic coup a year earlier. The U.S. was all ready to go in, guns blazing, but then it remembered it left the oven on and couldn’t fight. Instead, it threw money at any Afghani organizations that so much as had a mild distaste of communism. Among these was a group led by a passionate young man named Osama bin Laden, who, much to everyone's surprise, would later grow up to be none-other-than Osama bin Laden.

So, basically, Ronald Reagan gave significant financial aid not only to Saddam Hussein, but also to Osama bin Laden. Also, he was voted 2nd Greatest President in a recent poll, beating out FDR, Washington, and Jefferson.(3)

Still, neither of the Ira_s proved dominant, and the Iraq-Iran war ended in 1988, when both countries ran out of money. It was then that the desolate Iraq first noticed its neighbor, Kuwait, all tiny and vulnerable, sitting on all that oil money. So tiny. All that money. “Fetch me my war beret!”

America would never sit idly by while a poor, defenseless, oil-drenched nation was attacked. In the Persian Gulf War, America n’ Friends(TM) liberated Kuwait and gave Saddam a stern talking-to. Saddam repented his wicked ways once-and-for-all, and America and Iraq have been the best of friends ever since.

And there you have it. After reading this blog, I’m sure you’ll all agree that the history of the modern Middle East is long. But the important thing is that you learned something. What’s that? Oh, well, the important thing is that you tried to learn something; that’s pretty much almost just as good as actually learning something. Just remember, the next time you throw a brick through the window of an Arab-owned convenience store, make sure you know if the owner is a Sunni or a Shi’ite, lest you offend them.

Oh, and to answer the question from the beginning, Yemen is a country.


(1) Why would a culture intolerant of both women and other races release hostages that were both women and other races? That’s not a lead-in to the answer; I was asking honestly because I would like to know.
(2) In their defense, they did feel really, really bad about it.
(3) The 1st Greatest President was Lincoln, because if you don’t vote for Lincoln, you’re a racist.

05 April 2007

The Infidel's Guide to the Middle East
Section IV: America Saves The Day (For Americans)


The 1920s and 30s were a very special time for the Middle East. It was a time of very special changes: when the young nations entered adulthood, and—thanks to technological advances—for the first time noticed their blossoming oil reserves. However, the older, more mature nations only noticed the countries with the biggest oil reserves, and those with small cans (of petroleum or crude oil) were often ignored except by other undesirable countries.

America, too, was going through changes of its own. For the first time, he noticed an inexplicable urge to seize those oil reserves—to grab them in his hand and squeeze. He tried all the old tricks to get on the ladies’ good sides: flattering them, making excuses to hang out with them, officially recognizing their governments. But he didn’t make any real progress until he started spending money on them. No courtship comes cheap, and America soon realized that F-4 Phantom Jets go a hell of a lot farther than flowers and chocolates.

Now America only spent money on the girls with the biggest oil reserves (you could say that America is an “oil” kind-of-guy). He was usually seen around Saudi Arabia, who is known for exporting more oil than any other country, the slut, and Kuwait, who had very nice reserves, which only looked bigger due to her small size. All the other countries: please! America didn’t have time for countries with itty-bitty-oil-productivity.

That is, except for Israel.

Israel is a material girl, living in an African-Eurasian world. She is appeasing, loyal, and generous; but only after she gets what she wants. Israel has always been America’s girl on the inside, which is why she receives more U.S. financial aid than any other country in the world. If one of America’s Arabian ladies gets out of hand, Israel is right there to bitch-slap her. She loves a good catfight, particularly because it gives her the chance to show off her expensive designer military. She’s so good at being America’s insider, that sometimes she’ll start a fight without America telling her to. Sure, America will publicly condemn these actions in the UN locker-room, but he has yet to cut her funding. Wha-Chish! Wha-Chish! That’s the sound of the pussy whip.

Now, every trashy, chauvinistic boyfriend knows the best way to keep his girlfriend(s) in line is by bringing down their own self-worth until they are wholly dependent on him. Which brings us to America’s foreign policy for the Middle East. By funding primitive and often corrupt forms of governments, America ensures that none of his ladies “wise up” to realize that they can do better. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, and other forgettable countries are still run by monarchies. Monarchies! It’s like, hello, 1100 A.D. called, they want their form of government back. As if.

Now, since I enjoy thinking of Middle Eastern countries as women,(1) let’s call Iran the girl-that-got-away. It all started in 1941, when the Allies, out of the kindness of their hearts, chose the next Iranian Shah, or king, so that the people wouldn’t have to. The Allies chose Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the son of the former Shah whom they kicked out because his Axis sympathies. However, their generosity only went so far, and ten years later the people lamented having to vote themselves for a new prime minister (the position of Shah, on the other hand, was a gig for life). So the Iranian people, who had no choice in their head ruler, elected as their prime minister a man named Muhammed Mossadegh.

Mossadegh was a wild and crazy guy with lots of wacky ideas about how Iran would be better off if it was self-sufficient and not under the thumb of the Western powers (what a character!). As head of the Majlis—the Iranian parliament—Mossadegh nationalized (or un-internationalized) the oil industry, opposed foreign aid, and flat-out refused to talk to Great Britain. And to whom do you think Great Britain went to complain? “Oh, America, Iran won’t talk to us. Waa! Waa! They want us to pay for our oil! Boo hoo…” America knew it had to intervene, if for no other reason than to shut Britain up, but they couldn’t just immediately resort to violence. They needed to do this intelligently; luckily, they had an agency for that.

In 1953, the CIA worked alongside a British intelligence agency—the one from the Bond movies, no doubt—to launch Operation Ajax. Operation Ajax entailed the hiring of a literal army of Iranians to revolt on the streets of Tehran, Iran’s capital. The goal was to depose a democratically elected official so that more power could be given to an authoritarian monarch, our gift to Iran topped with a red, white, and blue bow. 300 Iranians died, and Mossadegh was arrested. He spent three years in prison and was then sentenced to a lifetime of house arrest. This sounds worse than it was, as Mossadegh’s house was the size of Texas.

But Iran would have her revenge, oh yes. Revenge in the form of an old man in a dress.

Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of America in the Middle East!


(1) When I am alone in my bed at night.

04 April 2007

The Infidel's Guide to the Middle East
Section III: The Sunny and Shitty Sides of Islam


Islam is unique from all other religions in that it is based on the teachings of one charismatic figure who proclaimed himself divine and whose teachings are documented in a “holy” book. Modern Islamic practice is divided between two opposing groups, not unlike the Protestant and Lutheran factions within Christianity, or the Buddhist and Confucist factions within Judaism. Of the Muslims, 83% are Sunni (“Soo(1)-nee”) and 15% are Shi’ite (“Shee-ight”). The other 2% are… well, who cares?

The fundamental difference between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites is the way in which they believe their leaders should be chosen. Sunnis believe that the their leader should be elected by a council—as did the first Americans—while Shi’ites believe the title should be passed down by bloodline—as do modern Americans—stemming from Muhammad himself.

Consequently, each group followed their own leaders since Muhammad’s death. The Sunnis followed their Caliph, which is the same thing as a sultan, which is like a king and a pope all in one. (Since Sunnis were the vast majority, the Caliphs got to lead everybody, not just Sunnis.) The most well known example of a Caliph is the Sultan from Disney’s Aladdin. That short, fat, simple-minded-but-with-a-good-heart Caucasian represented what, undoubtedly, all Caliphs must have been like.(2)

The Shi’ites, on the other hand, followed Imams, of which there were twelve. The last Imam mysteriously disappeared in the year 874, but legend has it that he will return at the end of the world with his sidekick, Jesus,(3) to promote Islam to the dying.

Again, Jesus will return at the end of the world to promote Islam.

Another more titillating, or sexier, difference between the two sects is their views on the act of Mut’ah. Mut’ah (“marriage for pleasure”) is a temporary marriage with a pre-decided duration. No priests or witnesses need to be present, and since the expiration is fixed, no divorce procedures are necessary. Basically, the Shi’ites use Mut’ah whenever they want to have a one-night stand, to the point where one can temporarily marry a hooker with Allah’s blessing. (In their defense, it is also used in platonic situations—such as when a man and woman live together, so that the woman may dress freely; in Islamic law, women are not allowed to show a certain amount of skin, determined by the region, except around their husbands.) The Sunnis have banned Mut’ah because they hate fun.

Now, it is in no way important to know which notable factions in the Middle East belong to which sect, as most U.S. politicians don’t know. However, since it is contemptible to have the intelligence of a U.S. politician, I will do you this favor. Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda are Sunni. The Taliban is hardcore Sunni; under their rule, if a woman had her nails painted they would cut off her fingers, as the Qur’an mentioned somewhere in passing something about “dressing modestly.”(4) Saddam Hussein was Sunni—although, from the looks of it, he wasn’t the most practiced mosque-goer—yet most of Iraq is Shi’ite. The Hezbollah of Lebanon are Shi’ite, but hate the Jews with a passion that transcends religious sectionalism. And finally, Iran is, like, Shi’ite central.

I would also like to note here—because it doesn’t really fit in anywhere else—that Iran used to be the Persian Empire.(5)

Come back tomorrow when we will discuss America's role in the Middle East!


(1) Rhymes with “zoo.”
(2) Disney’s Aladdin is the most in-depth and historically accurate account of Arabian history and should be referenced often.
(3) On the advice of his agent, Jesus made a cameo appearance in the Qur’an as a lowly prophet preparing the way for Muhammad.
(4) I wish that were a joke.
(5) Isn’t that cool!

Labels: , , , , , ,

03 April 2007

Bring Back the Draft (BR)
You heard me.

White House counsel Dan Bartlett made a really fascinating statement to Bob Schieffer of CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday morning. Asked by Schieffer about the departure of President Bush's political strategist Matthew Dowd, -- more specifically, about his bombshell interview in The New York Times in which he declared, among other things, "Kerry was right" -- Bartlett, in so many words, dismissed his "close friend" Dowd as a kindly but frazzled lunatic, driven into the waiting arms of liberal appeasers by (get this) the emotional toll of his son's imminent deployment to Iraq:
Schieffer: "Are you suggesting he's having some kind of personal problems and this is just what has resulted?"

Bartlett: "No, I think as expressed in the paper that he, himself has acknowledged that he's going through a lot of personal turmoil, but also he has a son who is soon to be deployed to Iraq. That can only impact a parent's mind as they think through these issues."
Yes, says Bartlett, He's so crazy that he identifies with Democrats! Lurking within Bartlett's hypocritical diplomacy is a full wind-up followed by a punch in the gut to anyone with a loved one serving in the military, particularly those military families who now oppose the war and this president. It is an attack on the credibility and competence of people for whom the "personal turmoil" of worrying day and night about a spouse, child or parent in uniform has grown to outweigh whatever pride accompanied the sacrifice when the military mission still had airs of legitimacy and importance to the nation's security. In short: If you oppose the war, the stress of your situation has overcome you; maybe you should lie down until it's over, and let the men in charge do their jobs.

What Bartlett illuminates without meaning to is the acute misery which must certainly dog Mr. Dowd, as the war that he helped plan and pitch to the American people, which has claimed the lives of over 3,200 American soldiers, decimated our military's readiness to respond to future attacks, hampered our ability to combat terrorism at home and around the globe, trapped the armed forces in the middle of sectarian guerilla conflict, now threatens very real consequences to himself and his family. That, as they say in the streets, is a bitch. But an instructive one.

If the sons and daughters of all federal elected officials and cabinet-level appointed staff were conscripted by law into the United States military for a period of five years beginning at the age of 18, America would never again enter into foolish wars of choice such as Vietnam and both Iraq conflicts. Those who decided to enter national politics would quite literally be committing flesh and blood to the welfare and protection of our nation.

Were such a law passed, it would apply equally to newly-elected and subsequently re-elected officials. I know of nothing in the Constitution that would prohibit such a requirement of public servants.

The decision to run for high office in this country is already a matter that is deliberated thoroughly by the families of prospective candidates, and the matter of the children's mandatory military service as a condition of holding the office would be just another issue. But the sensitivities of the individual congressmen are of less interest to me than the knowledge that any decision to go to war will be made by a Congress that has, personally, a lot to lose.

Would the Supreme Court hold up such a law if passed? Would the idea have more traction as a Constitutional amendment now that the public has had it with the war? What would be an effective political argument against such a law? Wouldn't any congressperson, either out of patriotism or cynicism, want to be on record as supporting such a measure?

This is no hit piece on our public officials, among whom there still exist some honorable men and women. We as a nation would benefit from the draft in this form, as the result would be a less stratified society, and a more common politics. It cannot be accurately said that America's government governs at all. America is managed by a political class, which has neatly segregated itself from the electorate. If it requires legislating uncomfortable provisos into our lawmakers' job descriptions before they acted right on our behalf, so be it.

The American people sense, correctly, that the political class in our country pays a disproportionately small slice of the total cost of war, and are probably also right on in their perception that this fact is somehow connected to our nation's monumentally stupid foreign policy. If there's one single measure that would fend off the creeping oligarchy in the United States, it's the codified demand that those who send our country to war send their children to fight and die.

Labels: , , , , ,

02 April 2007

The Infidel's Guide to the Middle East
Section II: Zionism Is More Than Just a Cool Word


The two biggest fads of the late 1800's were, in no particular order, bowler hats and anti-Semitism. Some people, specifically the Jews, had a slight problem with this. In 1896, journalist Theodor Herzl offered a solution in his book Der Judenstaat. Written in the long-dead language of German, Der Judenstaat gave a name to an idea that had been around for centuries: the idea that the Jews should occupy their own nation. In his boring book, Herzl suggested the Jews migrate to Palestine, their historic home. He named this movement “Zionism,” after Mount Zion, near Jerusalem. Before Herzl, the idea had been known simply as “Ism.”(1)

Peer pressure also played a large part in early Zionism. This was the era of nationalism, when all the cool, popular ethnic groups were forming their own countries. But the Jews, more than others, needed a homeland for themselves. They were tired of being scattered around the globe, hated by others; they yearned to be unified in a land of their own, where they could be hated together.

However, immigration occurred slowly and in small spurts; in the early part of the 20th century, the presence of Jews in Palestine was still minimal. Just when it looked like the Zionist movement would never take off, in an amazing stroke of luck, the Holocaust occurred. First, the Holocaust flooded Palestine with skin-and-bones immigrants, ready to till the farmland and lift heavy things to help build the community. Second, it raised a worldwide sympathy for the Zionist cause. The nations of the world couldn’t wait to throw their support behind the Zionists, even if only as a polite gesture to say “We won’t commit you into labor camps before suffocating you in gas chambers.”

By this point, Britain was exhausted. Due to the strain of fighting World War II, coupled with the stress of managing their over-extended empire, the United Kingdom was up to two packs a day. In May of 1948, they relinquished their rule over the Middle East in a famous UN speech entitled “Fuck It.” That same day the Jews declared their independence, the goal of Zionism was accomplished, and Israel was created.

Boy oh boy, the Arabs didn’t like that one bit.

Now that the Jews had their own nation, they could have their first war. All they had to do to survive as a nation was defeat the allied forces of Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Yemen, the Arab Liberation Army, and the Holy War Army while maintaining enough domestic stability and security to nurture their newborn country, not yet a week old. The Arabs were armed with fiery passion, brotherly unity, and the love of Allah, while all the Jews had to defend themselves were millions and millions of dollars worth of donated modern weaponry. When the third and lasting ceasefire was signed in February of 1949, Israel had grown 43% in size, proving once again that the gun is mightier than the Jihad.(2)

The Arabs still didn’t like them.

For the next few years, things weren’t horribly violent. Then, in 1952, Gamal Abdel Nasser headed a successful non-violent revolution right next door in Egypt, toppling the feudal monarchy for a democracy of the people. Two years later, he won the presidency, having been elected by Isis, Goddess of the Nile. Throughout his career, Nasser would become a distinguished man-of-the-people and an icon of Pan-Arabism, the movement for a unified Middle East. Through his diplomacy and acts of faith, he inspired the hearts of millions and secured their right to dream, earning him a legacy that would grow to the point of legend. He also had a funny mustache.

Nasser and his mustache organized an Arab alliance against Israel. He signed a mutual protection pact first with Syria, and then with Jordan, in case Israel attacked. Then, he politely expelled UN peacekeeping troops stationed in the Sinai Peninsula -- between Israel and Egypt -- so that he could station his own troops there, in case Israel attacked. Then Syria started shelling innocent Israeli farmers next to their border, in case Israel attacked. Finally, Israel had no choice but to attack.

No one knows how long the Six-Day War lasted, although it is known that it started on June 5, 1967, and lasted for six days. Using the element of surprise, Israel launched a simultaneous, three-pronged attack into Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, catching them with their dresses down. The Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, and Golan Heights were all conquered within a week. Nasser shrugged, put his hands in his pockets, and whistled as he slowly walked away.

Well, that pretty much covers the entire Arab-Israeli Conflict.(3), (4), (5), (6), (7), (8), (9), (10), (11)

But before we end this section, you’re probably wondering just who the fuck Yassir Arafat is. Well, soon after the Six-Day War, a young man in a checkered headdress named Yassir Arafat was elected leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (P.L.O.) because of his known guerilla terrorist tactics. The P.L.O. was created only a few years earlier in 1964 to defend the rights of the Palestinians and to hate the Jews in a more organized and efficient manner. Arafat was elected because of his known guerrilla terrorist tactics.

Once in power, Arafat immediately guerrilla’d the shit out of Israel from across the Jordan border (where the Palestinian refugees had gone after the war). King Hussein of Jordan soon got sick of the Palestinians, much like a parent gets sick of their child’s obnoxious friend, the one who spends every single afternoon in their house. Jordan, too, then exiled the Palestinians. The P.L.O. then moved to Southern Lebanon, where they fucked shit up there, too, and also played an important role in Lebanon’s upcoming civil war. But that is a topic for another blog.

Come back tomorrow when we will discuss the two major sects of Islam!


(1) Herzl wrote another, less-famous book about the late 1800s, titled Der Bowlerhaat.
(2) Jihad is the struggle for or defense of Islam, as seen in the sentence: “Man, Arabs use the word Jihad a lot.”
(3) Excluding the 1967 War of Attrition.
(4) Oh, and except for the Suez Canal Crisis.
(5) Of course, there was Yom-Kippur War.
(6) The tension between Israel in Southern Lebanon during the late 70s was pretty important.
(7) … Oh yeah, the Lebanon war following that tension.
(8) How could I forget the Hezbollah conflicts of the 80s.
(9) Did I mention the First Intifada?
(10) I know I mentioned the Second Intifada.
(11) Wait a minute. Didn’t something happen with Israel last summer?

Labels: , , , , , ,

01 April 2007

The Infidel's Guide to the Middle East
Section I: Look What World War I Shat Out -- The Origin of the Modern Middle East


“Arab.” The word sends shivers down your spine and bile up your throat. But how much do you really know about your bearded brothers and veiled sisters to the East? You know that they love hummus, they love Allah, and they love hating America; but do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shi’ite? Can you locate Lebanon on a map? Do you know if Yemen is a city or a country?

It’s okay if you don’t. Just by reading that first paragraph, you already know more about the Middle East than the average American. Besides, that’s what this blog is all about: knowing more than other people so that you sound smart at parties.

“But Matt,” you might say, “I don’t need to know anything about Arabs in order to hate them.” And that’s a fine attitude to have. Blind hatred is always a healthy and reliable mindset to live by. Sadly, sooner or later you’ll meet some asshole who will bring up all the injustices the Arabs suffered and how their poor and dysfunctional status has been caused by Western imperialism and blah, blah, blah. And what will you say then? You will need evidence to support your opinions; knowledge to turn your crass ignorance into an educated and well-rounded racial prejudice.

“But Matt,” you might interject, though I wish you wouldn’t, “thanks to the internet, I have access to thousands of essays written by specialists, professors, and plenty of other people who generally know more about the Middle East than you. Why shouldn’t I read those, instead?” Yeah, yeah, yeah. Go ahead and read those smarty-pants articles, with their actual facts backed by cited references. But I guarantee you that none of them will use the F-word.(1)

From the early 1500s until World War I, Arabia was the footrest of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman rule was so oppressive that, had they been around at the time, they probably would have called the Nazis “pussies,” but would say their hearts had been in the right place. About half a millennium passed while the Ottomans could think of no better way to pass the time than genocide, hunting intellectuals, and bocce ball (the Ottomans loved their bocce ball). Luckily for everyone except millions and millions of dead soldiers, World War I broke out.

The Turks, as the Ottomans now like to call themselves, or the Turkeys, as I like to call them, were at war with the British. For completely selfless reasons in no way relating to Egypt’s Suez Canal, the British opened a campaign to liberate Arabia, particularly the Egyptian region surrounding the Suez Canal. They enlisted the help of Sharif Hussein bin Ali, leader of the Arab resistance,(2) and granted him money, guns, and the film rights to Lawrence of Arabia. Also in exchange for Arabian help, the British made an unofficial promise—the best kind of promise—that, if they were to win the war, then Britain would support an independent Arab nation including most of the tribes of the Middle East.

As soon as the Arabs discovered which side of a gun to point away from themselves, and that those magic flying djinnis were actually just airplanes, they coordinated their efforts with the British and pushed the Turkeys out of Arabia. As a strange coincidence, around this same time the Turkeys decided that having the largest empire in the world was not, in fact, all that great, and opted instead for a reasonable amount of land where they could be almost, but not quite, European.

So, everyone was happy, especially the British, because they never had any intention of giving the Arabs their own country. Actually, Britain had made a secret agreement with France in which they devised a plan to split the Middle East between them. France would get the northern part and Britain would get the south. When deciding how officially to classify these territories, they chose the word protectorates, because bitches was not PC. This covert arrangement was called the Sykes-Picot Agreement, because the Arabs were to be “Syked” out of their own country.

Eventually, the Sykes-Picot Agreement developed so that Russia, a fellow ally in the war, could get some of that sweet, sweet Arabian land. However, after the 1917 Russian Revolution, no one wanted to give Communists anything, so their share of the territory was denied to them (“Syke Out!”). This chain of events led Vladimir Lenin, who never could take a joke, to release confidential papers outlining the plan; thus beginning the time-honored Arabian tradition of not trusting Whitey.

Not that it mattered much to Britain and France. They both had a dream of creating a region of chaos and turmoil right smack in the middle of the world; and they wouldn't let millions of pissed-off Arabs tell them otherwise. Some dreams are just worth fighting for.

Come back tomorrow when we will discuss Jews in the Middle East!


(1.) "Fuck."
(2.) Sharif Hussein’s resistance movement began when he proclaimed himself king of the Hejaz area of Saudi Arabia. Following the success of this self-appointed position, he then proclaimed himself Caliph, leader of all Muslims, and Sexiest Man Alive. People magazine later contended this last claim.

Labels: , , , , , , ,