Dateline: Middle East
It’s embarrassing. Despite decades of military invasions, occupations and intervention it is remarkable how little most Americans know about the Middle East. Do people recall how the Eisenhower administration destroyed democracy in Iran or Washington’s close alliance with Saddam Hussein? Do people realize that Arabs are Semites and to call them anti-Semitic is an oxymoron? After displacing Britain and France, the old colonial powers, the U.S. has built a string of military bases throughout the Middle East and props up dictatorships like Egypt and monarchies like Saudi Arabia. Rhetoric about human rights, democracy, and freedom aside it is oil, weapons sales, and support of Israel which drive Washington’s policy. Presidents come and go but the patterns persist with only shades of difference. And the media? They are doing a great job keeping people ignorant with their unexamined assumptions and biased reporting.
Rami Khouri has reported on the Arab region for decades. He is a senior fellow with the Middle East Initiative at the Belfer Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School. He was the Founding Director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at the American University of Beirut in 2006-14. He was Executive Editor of the Beirut Daily Star and before that Editor-in-Chief of The Jordan Times. His articles appear in major newspapers around the world.
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