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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

A morning office conversation!

I just finished having a very interesting conversation with W., one of my co-workers at the company that pays me good money so I can not do my job and post here instead. Hmm… W. is the son of a former Egyptian diplomat, who lived his teenage years in Iraq and Chile and the majority of his twenties in the states where he went to college and later on worked for a big Multinational company. He then decided at some point of his life that he never really adjusted to life in the States and that he would rather live in Egypt, so he packed his bags and moved back here. He has been living here for about 10 years now, married, has kids and he doesn’t regret his choice one bit. He truly loves this country, which is something I really respect about him (despite popular belief of some of my Egyptian/Arab readers, I do really love Egypt). He has also grown to be quite the Islamic scholar, but never chooses to impose his views or give unsolicited advice or fatwas of any kind. And while we don’t see eye to eye on many many things, he is a great person to argue and debate with, mainly because he actually debates his point of view and backs it up. You know, the kind of person you could actually have intelligent discourse with? Anyway….. The topic of debate today was based on a question that I posed to him concerning the upcoming Iraqi elections. He is of the view that the United States is going to stay there for the long haul, partly because he believes that was their intention in the first place, and partly because he believes that they didn’t adequately plan for the post-invasion period. We may disagree on the first, but we did agree on the second, cause even the biggest war supporter would agree that there were some mistakes and some missed opportunities by the U.S. administration. But then again, vision is always 20/20 in hindsight, and I am not one for crying over spilled milk. Hmm, what was I talking about again? Ohh, right, the question! My question to him was basically this: “Let’s assume that the January 30th democratic elections in Iraq goes without a hitch, and that a new democratically elected Iraqi government is born that would be composed of all Iraqi factions. And after that happens, and Iraq becomes relatively stable, they ask the Americans to leave and the American forces pack up and leave the country. What kind of effect do you think that would have on the average Egyptian/ Arab - who believes the Iraqi invasion to be a Zionist ploy or an American imperialist venture- when it comes to his own views concerning the U.S.? Do you think that they would actually look at a democratic Iraq and think to themselves that maybe- just maybe- they have misjudged the Americans and their intentions?” His answer to me, simply , was: “Not a chance in hell!” To which I asked: “why?” His reply was: “Because of the Arab dignity issue. If this – very doubtful scenario due to the recent bombings- actually ever happens, they will make sure to strip away any kind of credit from the Americans. They would attribute the reason for which the Americans evacuated Iraq to notions of how the Iraqi resistance was kicking their asses and how they left after the elections because it was their first chance to cut and run while saving face. There is no way that the Arabs would give any credit to the Americans cause then it would conflict with their view of it as the enemy and the source of all their problems and defeats. Not to mention it would mean that the Americans were right to go into that war and that the Arabs were wrong about it, and arabs can’t have that!” That answer, seriously, left me speechless for a couple of minutes because of how impressed I was with the points it raised. How could I possibly not have seen that? Could it be that I am too idealistic to think that Arabs would be this cynical and unfair in their view in case this thing ends up being a success? Did I really think that- if this scenario ever came true- they would all just admit that they were wrong and then maybe, just maybe, would want the same for themselves? What’s wrong with me? Have I forgettn my Egyptian history all of a sudden? You see, the reason why I am bringing Egyptian history into this discussion is because it contains a very real example that would support W. answer, and that is what the Egyptian authorities did after getting Sinai fully back from the Israelis after the Camp David peace treaty. The Israelis, during the period of occupation of Sinai, had managed to build a couple of things all over Sinai: You know, built a couple of towns and outposts with houses and streets and everything, built a couple of Hotels ( including the taba Hilton that was destroyed in the taba attacks), and actually drilled and found 3 rich oil wells. When the Egyptians took the land back, the first thing they did was destroy all the houses and the outposts that the Israelis built, with the exception of a couple of hotels and the oil wells. The reason? So that people wouldn’t come here and see the good houses or towns that the Jews built. There has to be little or no evidence on Sinai that the Jews occupied that land at all, not to mention put it in any good use whatsoever, even if it meant destroying perfectly good houses and towns. “What, and people can look and say that the Jews put this land in better use then we do? Can’t have that! They might start asking us to follow their model of building or something. Nope, they came to this land when it was nothing but desert and it will return to being desert after they are gone. Gotta remove all evidence of their tainted presence”! Me, I would’ve taken those towns and kept them, alongside the hotels and the oil wells. Call it reperations, call it invasion tax, whatever! I would’ve sold them to Egyptians and had some of them move there, and maybe expand those cities a little bit. The reason why Sinai was invaded so easily was due to the lack of Egyptians who live there. Maybe it would be a good idea to start populating the area, this way if anything in the future would happen, we would have some presence there or something. The Israelis follow that lesson plan; it’s why they start building towns and outposts the minute they take over a piece of land. You know, establish some strategic presence in the area. But no, we can’t do that! That’s what the Jews do. You want us to admit that they have some good ideas worth emulating or something? That would be giving them credit, and no self-respecting patriotic Egyptian would give credit to those Jewish dogs! What’s wrong with you? You must be a self-hating Arab or something! Sigh… So, in conclusion my American friends, don’t be surprised if you don’t end up getting any kind of credit if this thing actually goes well. Even if everything goes well and as planned, and you actually end up leaving after getting the job finished, you should know that all the credit will go to the Iraqis, and none of it will be given to you. Instead, you will be labeled as cowardly failed imperialists who couldn’t take the heat or handle the daily ass-kicking handed to you by the courageous heroic Iraqi resistance. Just so you wouldn’t be surprised or anything! You know?

23 Comments:

At 1/05/2005 04:38:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So, in conclusion my American friends, don’t be surprised if you don’t end up getting any kind of credit if this thing actually goes well."

The street wags in America says things like "all politicians are corrupt!" I'll usually nod my head in partial agreement......I imagine the Arab street is the same, they will never accept that any good could be derived the invasion/occupation..... hopefully after the Iraqi citizens vote in the coming elections, their new democracy will begin to thrive,.. that should be payment enough as we pack our bags and leave town.
Ricardo

 
At 1/05/2005 04:57:00 AM, Blogger NBS said...

i dont have any inside info in politics, but i know that all goverments are screwed, and the amercians will more then likely try and impose what they want on iraq after they leave just as they do to isreal, but i think the new iraq goverment will tell them where to go and do whatever they want, this will really piss off the amercians but what did they really expect they could do. in the end iraq is going to be just like all the other arabs countries, nothing liek the west and the amercians will try and save ace by attempting to help them out. All this training the amercians are giving the iraqies now and all the weapons, i bet you that it will come back and bite them in trhe arse just the same as when they trained osama and gave him weapons, in the end he turned agianst the amercians, i bet you this will happen in regards to iraq, might not be 5, 10 years but it will. the amercians will try and get iraq growing, politically, finacially, and then they will turn agianst the west when they no longer need there money. it is pretty much a defeat no matter what they do, and i am sure they know this atm, and think that they might be able to do something about it, how could they not know it? that would be very nieave....

and on another front, i was thinking to myself a few months ago when the oil prices went up and our fuel prices were hitting US$1.5 a litre, cant the arabs see that this is the way to bring down amercia, screw their oil, they can do this in their own backyard and pretty much bring down amercia, no need to fly over to the US and use their planes, just fuck the oil, and how amazing, osama releases an audio tape them telling the arabs to screw the oil pipe lines, amazing hey.

the longer the US stay in iraq the more violance is going to happen, no matter what they do, they need a way to get out and try and save some face, it wont do them any good, but in their eyes they have to try and save face, to their allies and a tiny bit to the UN, even though they dont give a fuck about them and do what they want agianst the UN. its tough being a superpower isnt it.

amercia is at the point now where they are cutting back health plans for soliders and so forth, cant you imagine how many more guys are going to need it if amercia is still in iraq for years........... not only have the numbers dropped of people joining the army, but amercia wont be able to substain the huge amount of people that are injured and are disabled...

 
At 1/05/2005 08:52:00 AM, Blogger Louise said...

In this world there are pessimists and there are optimists. You, Sandmonkey, are an optimist. As thinker said on one of these blogs the other day, all great achievements are the result of optimists taking charge. You can change Egypt, Sandmonkey, and then the region and then the world. In this lifetime. There. Go to it!

 
At 1/05/2005 08:58:00 AM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

Hey Sandmonkey,

Check out my blog today. I included not only the requisite shameless plug but I also got a bunch of very interesting links.

Check out the link to a FrontPage article by Naseer Hasan. I know you'll like it.

About your colleague's response, I am not surprised at all. I wrote about this aspect a long time ago and created a shorthand label for the behavior that I called the APU -- Arab Parallel Universe. First of all, in the APU, Arabs never lose. If you're killed, you become an Honored Martyr. If you are simply defeated, like Saddam in 91 and as you rightly point out about the 73 war, you become an Arab Champion. Martyr or Champion. It's a win-win situation.

Now the APU has a good side and a bad side. On the good side, Arabs always feel good about themselves because they never lose. On the downside, however, Arabs never learn from their mistakes because the APU will not allow them to actually analyze their mistakes. For example, in the 73 war, the Egyptians did a good job using the water-jets to cut through the berms. Very clever, good job. However, there were many mistakes after that good start. But those mistakes MUST be forgotten if Egyptians are going to celebrate their great victory -- APU again -- every year.

So, the APU makes for short-term good feeling, but long-term stagnation.

What do you think? I could be wrong about this, but I have looked closely at this for around three years now.

*

 
At 1/05/2005 10:45:00 AM, Blogger Tina said...

We know. We've always known, but the important thing will be that the Iraqis are free. It doesn't matter who gets credit, or what the rest of the world thinks, we will have done the right thing and an entire country will be free as a result.

We may be idealists, but we're not stupid.

 
At 1/05/2005 11:09:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only will the Arabs not admit it, Sam, neither will many of our lefty citizens and others who opposed the war. Such is human nature. And really, what does it matter if the Iraqis get all the credit? They certainly deserve a tremendous amount of credit. GWB selected wisely, the Iraqis have been incredible.

If Iraq succeeds, and provides a shining example to other Arabs and inspires them to demand something better for themselves....it will have been worth every cent spent and every sacrifice made, credit or no.

Bridget

 
At 1/05/2005 11:17:00 AM, Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

Jeffery, you are a genius! You are so on the money it's not even funny. That theory explains so much that i couldn't fathom that i started telling people about it and they all concurred with their own examples. I may just have to write an post about the A.P.U.!

 
At 1/05/2005 12:08:00 PM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

Sandmonkey,

American soldiers are buried on French soil from two world wars. From WWII, around 20,000 American young men are dead and buried in France. In one cemetery, there are 38 sets of brothers buried, their graves side by side.

And yet for decades the French have gone out of their way to kick Americans in the nuts at every opportunity.

And people wonder why Americans despise the French?!

My Dad and all my uncles fought in WWII. My neighbor across the street in my hometown was in the Bataan Death March.

If Americans need to be lethal, we got no problem with that. Read REDSIX's account from a tanker's point of view in Fallujah.

Question: Does anyone even know where the bullet-riddled corpses of Uday and Qusay are buried?

And to think that Uday might have been the next Crowned Cannibal of Iraq!

*

 
At 1/05/2005 12:26:00 PM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

Sandmonkey,

Just a couple more points. The APU is, of course, a behavioral tendency. There are many Arabs who don't fall for the soothing tones of that worldview.

The Arab Human Development Report, for example, researched and written by Arab scholars, is unflinching in its analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the region. They located three major weaknesses:

>The barrier to better Arab performance is not a lack of resources, concludes the report, but the lamentable shortage of three essentials: freedom, knowledge and womanpower. Not having enough of these amounts to what the authors call the region's three “deficits”. It is these deficits, they argue, that hold the frustrated Arabs back from reaching their potential—and allow the rest of the world both to despise and to fear a deadly combination of wealth and backwardness.

I teach ESL at the university level and every semester I have some Arab students in my classes. They're intelligent and fast learners. To me, it is unfortunate that the assets they are capable of bringing to their countries are more often than not constrained by inelastic economic and political systems back at home. I can also see the pain on their faces when someone like Osama Bin Laden claims to be speaking for Arabs. Who wouldn't be pissed off by that?!

The APU is, to be sure, a hindrance to Arab progress. After 9/11, it has also become a danger to many, many other countries.

Democracy coming to Iraq will not deal a death-blow to the APU. It will, however, take a considerable bite out of its ass.

*

 
At 1/05/2005 12:33:00 PM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

Sandmonkey,

Oh shoot! I almost forgot to say thank you for those kind words!

Thanks.

Strange. A couple weeks ago the blogsphere was wobbling a bit, kind of lethargic. But since then new blogs have been popping up every day -- good ones like yours.

I got no problem with that.

*

 
At 1/05/2005 01:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeffrey,

Liked your APU theory, would like to read your blog, can you post a link? When I click on your name, I get some sort of "Blogger Profile Unknow"

Sam,
Really enjoy your blog as well as GM, & MagDee. Spent a year in Egypt, and have very fond memories of her, warts and all. It's great to hear of Taba, Dahab, Sharm, Cairo etc. Ya'll keep blogging.

Later
Tater

 
At 1/05/2005 01:53:00 PM, Blogger Cindy said...

Democracy: BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE!!

For anyone’s information Democracy cannot bet given to anyone by anyone. The only way democracy will take hold in Iraq is if the IRAQIS want it. Right now the one who want it are fighting for it, and dying for the cause. The other ones are being turned in by their neighbors to spend the rest of their lives in an Iraqi prison, guarded by the very Iraqi people they were trying to kill.

Freedom isn’t Free and the Iraqi people are paying the price now for the privilege. I’m glad we can help them.

Hint: Iraq is going to be the only oil rich country whose economy can survive WITHOUT the sale of oil. You all are smart, you will figure it out.

 
At 1/05/2005 02:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Take up the White Man's burden,
And reap his old reward--
The blame of those ye better
The hate of those ye guard--
The cry of hosts ye humour
(Ah, slowly!) toward the light:--
"Why brought ye us from bondage,
Our loved Egyptian night?"

 
At 1/05/2005 03:00:00 PM, Blogger Jeffrey said...

Tater,

Here's my blog:

Iraqi Bloggers Central.

Enjoy.

And thanks.

*

 
At 1/05/2005 03:15:00 PM, Blogger littlewhy said...

How ironic that your friend is known as Dubya. I'd like to bring your attention, Sandmonkey, to South Korea. Those old enough to remember the tender ministrations of Kim Il Sung are very pro-U.S. But the young, those who don't remember, are very against Uncle Sam. They hold 'peace' rallies against their uncle, spit on Merkan soldiers, etc. They never have rallies against Kim Jong Il or the Chinese, because they're just reacting to evil old Uncle Sam's imperialism.

So you can expect something like this in the future in Iraq. Probably twenty years from now the most anti-American people you'll know will be twenty-something Iraqis...

 
At 1/05/2005 05:52:00 PM, Blogger Iosefo said...

Hi sam, been reading the comments posted and I find it intriguing. Some very good comments posted here. on the flip side, I noticed that you're being railed against by some of those lefty moonbats (kind of amusing to see the willing ignorance of some). But as you so thorougly meted out justice to MagDee, I have no doubts as to your self defence capabilities. You have a great site. It'll be interesting to see what develops when more moonbats and weenies show up to post comments. Take care brother.

 
At 1/05/2005 10:32:00 PM, Blogger poet said...

defile those nattering nabobs of negativty....monkey see..monkey good

 
At 1/05/2005 11:03:00 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

Look:

Having a free, democratic Iraq and a free, democratic Arab world is VERY, VERY GOOD for the United States.

Would it be nice if they gave us some credit? Sure! Do I think they will? Nope. Do I care very much or grudge it to them? Nope.

Ever read the Lord of the Rings? (Yes, I said "Read" you numbskulls.) Look at the passages in which Strider the Ranger talks about how he and his fellows singlehandedly preserve the peace of the Shire hobbits and the Breefolk. And in return? They get scorn and ridicule.

His reaction? They wouldn't have it any other way.

We won't get lasting gratitude for the unbelievable job we are doing of rescuing Muslims in Sumatra way ahead of the UN! The mullahs will convince the people it wasn't really us, or Allah made us do it against our will, or it was all part of some plot or other. So what? We know what we did.

Jeff

 
At 1/05/2005 11:17:00 PM, Blogger Twosret said...

Sandmonkey,

Do you think your co-worker is a representative of the average Egyptian people? from what you posted to us I don't think so. His background is too elite :) I think the average Egyptian (correct me if I'm wrong)would be a boulaq, Sharabia, Kasr El-Eini or Shobra El-Khima resident or even Khan Khalili to find the answer.

My point of view is, the ego of the arabs has nothing to do with it. If it does then it is a reminder to them of the invasion of the British, French, Spanish etc....

Do you think the ego of the Americans will be less if Russia invaded the US?

I have a question about the Sinai topic. I heard that the Israeli's destroyed any towns before leaving Sinai is that true?

 
At 1/06/2005 02:51:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never had any illusions that the U.S. would get credit for anything good in Iraq. Doesn't matter. It's too important to offer the opportunity for liberty and self-determination in the ME, even when we're trashed for it.

 
At 1/06/2005 05:59:00 AM, Blogger The Sandmonkey said...

Twosret,
in terms of comparison with the average egyptian, yeah, i guess my friend would be from the "educated elite". This ,however, doesn't make him any less egyptian and shouldn't make his views any less accurate.
And yes, some of the israelis upon being forced to leave their houses in sinai decided to try and demolish them before leaving them. However,they couldn;t demolish the whole house or the roads and utilities, which the egyptian army took care of. There are still a couple of houses here and there left- taken over by the army- in marina sharm for example. It's kinda messed up- for me as an egyptian- though that Taba, sharm el sheikh, dahab and all those resorts and beaches were all developed by the israelis. If it wasn;t for their invasion, we wouldn't have those resorts being the way the are today. Most of them would look like the ugly and poorly designed Hurghada, which is the perfect example of the egyptian government resort planning in action and its ability of taking a perfectly good beach resort and ruining it!

 
At 1/06/2005 01:05:00 PM, Blogger Twosret said...

Sandmonkey,

I didn't attempt to discredit W. I don't think he is less Egyptian. I only said you have gotten a feedback from an educated elite person in regards to average Egyptian political point of view.

For example, I have tried to research (with the help of one of the finest research companies in the world) a new product in Egypt among certain groups and the results shocked me. It can be frustrating for you to do so but I promise you it will be fun as you finally reach out for the "sayaseen in Qahwa". May be get together with Magdee? LOL

As for Sharm my understanding is that Roushdy El-Sharkawy of Ramw is the builder and owner of Hyatt Regency in Sharm. Ritz Carlton is built a la Andalusian style. Sawirs is the owner and builder of El-Gouna.

In 1968 the Israelis built the settlement Ophira on the cliff of Ras Um Sidd. Yamit or other settlements didn't resemble any of the Namaa Bay hotels or the current wonderful tourism attraction.

Am I getting you right here or there is a misunderstanding?

 
At 1/06/2005 01:06:00 PM, Blogger Twosret said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 

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