Monday, August 8, 2016

Does Donald Trump Understand the Mideast?

Here's the Eric Margolis take:
Donald Trump clearly does not understand the Mideast. He is trying to assess its complexities like an accountant. In fact, he is totally lost.

I spoke with Trump last February and suggested very strongly that he need urgent help in finding his way through the Mideast’s pitfalls and minefields. He has, it seems, relied on his own imperfect knowledge and instincts, and too often heeded Washington neocons and their media yes-men at the Wall Street Journal and Fox TV

Trump simply does not understand that there are all sorts of Muslims. There is no common Muslim identity or common interest, any more than there is a Christian, Hindu or Buddhist one. What has a Muslim in Indonesia have in common with a Moroccan Muslim? Nothing, save a vague attachment to the Muslim faith. In the Mideast, Muslim Sunni are almost at war with Shia Muslims. In South Asia, there is fierce enmity between different schools of Islam. Wahabis from Arabia are at scimitars drawn with easier-going Sufis from Asia.

In short, one cannot generalize about Muslims. The reason that America’s three million Muslims have no political clout is because they are so fragmented in faith, history, and culture. Disunity, tribalism, and localism are the curses of the Muslim world.

This is Understanding the Outside World 101. Alas, Trump and most Americans do not. Their views on Islam are shaped by highly biased Hollywood films and shows, the neocon media, far right religious zealots, and shadowy neocon groups who spend millions annually promoting hatred and fear of Islam.

Even most American journalists have no idea that a group with ties to Israeli intelligence translates and disseminates most communications from militant Islamic groups like ISIS, Hezbollah, and Taliban.

One can’t deal with horribly complex issues like this with bumper-sticker solutions, as Trump advocates. By contrast, he’s doing the right thing by trying to break up the corrupt, war-loving, self-serving Republican Party. More power to him. But for god’s sake, please consult some real, unbiased Mideast experts whose first loyalty is to the United States.

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