Tuesday, August 4, 2009

China Cursed the Middle East

The legendary journalist and Middle East expert, Robert Fisk, asks a question that is surely on the minds of millions: why is the region finding it so difficult to shake off its melancholy and embrace the fruits of peace, economic development, and modernity?

Well Mr. fisk, I will tell you the answer, but you must promise to keep it between me, you, and the millions of internet users around the world.

The ills of the Middle East started when the Chinese cursed the region ions ago. Yes that's right. Confucius is probably behind the region's troubles. So much for Samuel Huntington's theory of an Islamic-Confucian civilizational alliance. The real fact of the matter is that the Chinese have always been jealous of Middle Easterners for some - still obscure - reason.

Many people have heard of the Chinese curse, "may you live in interesting times." But what is less known to most is the rest of it; "may you fall under the eyes of the authorities" and "may you find what you are looking for."

Do you see the connection yet? No? Allow me to explain.

"May you live in interesting times"

Well, this one is pretty self explanatory. What region of the world is more volatile, or 'interesting', than the Middle East today?

But believe me, from my frequent trips to the region, the majority of Middle Easterners would trade their 'interesting region' for the mellow, ordered, and predictable lives of a Swede, Norwegian or Swiss, any day.

"May you fall under the eyes of the authorities"

Contemporary Middle Easterners have grown up under the tender and big-brother watch (insert sarcasm here) of their respective governments for decades. As a matter of fact, these governments are so good at 'taking care' of the 'best interests' of their citizens that their citizens vote them into office year after year, decade after decade. But Middle Easterners probably wish the authorities could be a tad less concerned about them, and allow them to look after and think for themselves once in while.

"May you find what you are looking for"

Black Gold under the desert. Now that is something the Arabs never saw coming. The majority probably wish they still never had. The resource curse isn't just a fancy academic concept. Just ask Iraqis today. How you ever met a genie that grants infinite riches free of charge?

So the next time the world asks why the Middle East is hurting today, or why it can't seem to get its act together, the answer lies not in colonial Europe, Israeli expansionism, or radical Islam. The responsibility lies with those jealous and ill-wishing Chinese!

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