The Center

Once upon a time, the Middle East was the center of all things. From Assyrian cuneiform script to the fertile crescent, from a hub of culture to the birthplace of three religions.

It was the center of Eurasia, but as Western civilization developed, the cultural, scientific, and technological diaspora gradually moved toward Europe. Marco Polo described another great center of knowledge and culture—the aptly named zhong guo, or middle kingdom, which viewed itself as the center of all things—today, China once again sees itself in that light.

Somewhere along the road North America blossomed, and the planet now has three great centers of knowledge: China and SE Asia, Europe, and North America.

The Mid-East remains a center, but nowadays for violence and unrest. Sunni against Shia, Muslim against Jew, and all of these stuffed into a pressure cooker with Russians and Americans turning up the heat—it’s a cauldron for chaos.

Like the waggle dance of the honeybee, different countries are visited by the curse. Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iran, Kuwait—all part of a trail of destruction and death, of proxy wars run by the big cahunas, originating incredible suffering, and leading to all the migrant crises that inexplicably surprise the West—even though the narrative is a simple, seven point plan.

1. I live in a country that’s rich and safe.
2. You live in a country that’s poor and unsafe.
3. You live there because you have little choice.
4. My country bombs your country.
5. You leave there because you have no choice.
6. You come to my country.
7. I’m surprised.

In the New York Times bestseller ‘Rise and Kill First’, Ronen Bergman focuses on only one theme: targeted assassination, performed in this case by Israel.

The Mossad (foreign intelligence service), Shin Bet (domestic intelligence service), Aman (military intelligence), and the coterie of Israeli politicians that surround and govern them are the main sources for the text—it quickly becomes clear that Israel is very good at institutionalized murder, and uses it as a major weapon against its Arab opponents, particularly the Palestinians.

The actions of Palestinian groups such as the PLO, Black September, and later Hamas were an obvious driver for the development of murder as a weapon, but the main message I take from this book, after my nightly dose of depression, is the level of hatred that exists between the warring factions.

When I put that into context with the current war in Syria, and I wonder what nation follows in this deadly ring-a-roses, it’s hard not to see the Middle East as the center of tragedy, and impossible to glimpse a solution.

Terror heat map for 2017. The year saw 1,347 attacks worlwide, which resulted in 8,554 deaths.

In that context, Atmos Fear is more relevant now than when it was published five years ago. Tensions among Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, and the Ayatollahs are substantially worse, with Turkey more and more bogged down in the quagmire.

It’s fascinating to see how little terror occurs in the two big local players, Iran and Saudi Arabia, when compared to the surrounding nations—or the US and Europe, for that matter.

The foreseeable future holds little hope, particularly if Saudi goes  nuclear. At that stage, Iran will invoke its treaty sunset clause and match its enemy. The US will back Sunni and Russia will back Shia, and soon the oil fields will be burning again.

An edifice built on mutual murder has no prospect for peace.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, Clear Eyes, and Folk Tales For Future Dreamers. QR links for smartphones and tablets.


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