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Bill Moyers Rewind: Seyyed Hossein Nasr on Finding Peace in the Middle East (1990)

In a conversation with Bill Moyers on WORLD OF IDEAS in 1990, three years before the first attack on the World Trade Center, Mideast scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr discussed the prospects of achieving regional peace given increasing unrest in parts of the Islamic world, rising anti-western sentiment, and the first Gulf War.

"[The symbolism of American and other western troops being stationed near Mecca and Medina] in many Muslims' eyes is kind of a final desecration of things Islam, the final humiliation that Muslims can't defend even the center of their world."

Click below to watch the interview:

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I think that we should pull back are troops from the war in Afganistan.

Excellent summary of why people in the Midi dislike us.

He,in brief words, discribed deeply the whole situation in the Middle East. I agree with every word he said. I cannot add any other words beside him. I think if you watch this you will like it more.

If we are ever going to have civil peace and peace of mind, it will be necessary to delegate religion to non-combatant.
Religion should be a source of peace not of war. Religion should be a choice not a requirement.
Systems of social organization should also be a matter of choice by the people involved. Economics and technology should be shared by all people to provide quality lives not weapons of war.
People need to work out their problems without resorting to death and destruction. It takes cooperation and coordination to maximize goods and sevices and minimize conflict.

I ask myself how these truths are relevant now. My recollection is that Saddam Hussein was a thug installed by U.S. shadow government. My recollection is that he was Daddio Bush's buddy who fought Iran. My recollection is that under excellent diplomatic relations he was set up by Daddio's gal April Glasbe, virtually given the go ahead to invade the errant province of Kuwait (which had been whip-drilling into Iraqi oilfields across the border). It is my recollection that Saddam was hanged before any of these particular truths could be sorted out.
Certainly the capitalist West, with its ineptitude and contradictions, was in someone else's house repeatedly, and now for much too long a time.
Corporate capitalism is elites dealing with elites to the detriment of common people in both camps. This is especially tragic when the positive tendencies of the Islamic world are squashed or disrupted by either monetary exploitations or standing armies. The elite emirs are illegitimate in Islamic terms but useful to wealthy interests in the West. Western soldiers stand by to keep them in place. As Nasr says, it is western capitalism that is about to fall on its face if it cannot maintain its extractive mechanisms. It can't act with equity because it is so impoverished, and now it can hardly win even by breaking its own rules. There is a place where spirituality and physical reality merges. For the west it is comprehensive bankruptcy in both realms simultaneously. Wells of every kind are running dry in an increasingly thirsty world. The center (of capitalist power) cannot hold (in Arabia or at home.)There lies the rub: There was a fortunate man who lived in a beautiful house with a loving family; but he could not be content...

Rather interesting that Mr. Hossein foresaw western involvement in the Middle East for the next fifty years. Only?

I remember having a long discussion in London back in 1988 with a British fellow who had worked in the hotel industry in Kuwait. He told me if Kuwait was ever attacked the west would defend it vigorously. He was right.

I remember having a discussion with a Jordanian who told me the Iraqi economy was dying and the Jordanian economy along with it, because Iraq used to buy everything that Jordan could manufacture, but the sanctions had destroyed the economy of the whole region. He supported Bush in the 2000 election because he said the first Bush created the situation and the second Bush would correct it. I'm still trying to figure out if he was right.

If we are going to be involved in the region anyhow, we might as well start with independence for Palestine. It will happen one day. Better it should happen now and with American backing.

We needed to listen to Seyyed Hossein Nasr then and we should be listening to him, now.

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