January 16th, 2014
10:12 PM ET

Making things worse in the Middle East

By Fareed Zakaria

Over the past few months, the Middle East has become an even more violent place than usual. Iraq is now once again home to one of the most bloody civil wars in the world, after Syria of course, which is the worst. Watching these horrors unfold, many in the United States are convinced that this is Washington’s fault or that, at the very least, the Obama administration’s “passive” approach toward the region has allowed instability to build. In fact, the last thing the region needs is more U.S. intervention.

The Middle East is in the midst of a sectarian struggle, like those between Catholics and Protestants in Europe in the age of the Reformation. These tensions are rooted in history and politics and will not easily go away.

Read the Washington Post column

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Topics: Middle East

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. matslats

    This is drivel, Fareed. Why don't you find something you are passionate about – far away from your paymasters, and do that instead. You'll be a happier person. I bet you don't even need the money any more.

    January 17, 2014 at 1:42 am | Reply
  2. chrissy

    Ya know @ matslats, maybe this IS his passion! Hes telling the world just how UGLY war is and even though many are to thickheaded to absorb that information, some just might! And i am not referring to you, neccessarily or myself even. He!! it could be anybody. Better if it were alot of anybody's of course! And im willing to bet that it IS alot of anybody's! Ya see, im a reader. I have a HUGE assortment of books! Many different types of topics! But they all have one thing is common.....the WRITERS were very PASSIONATE about what they were writing about! And that is also something ive noticed with Fareeds articles. But sometimes, due to popular demand, somethings must be sugarcoated. That seems to ALWAYS be the case when you are educating the world, on the UGLYNESS of WAR!!!!

    January 17, 2014 at 3:18 am | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    What the US could do is to help forge a new Middle East map, dismissing the straight lines that the British and French colonialists had drawn. .

    January 17, 2014 at 6:16 am | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      The Sykes-Picot agreement was a flagrant disregard of the ethnic-sectarian fabric, which had been woven for centuries in the region. The tensions now come back to haunt us today.

      January 17, 2014 at 6:18 am | Reply
      • j. von hettlingen

        Debalkanisation is the only solution to conflicts in a culture, where blood is thicker than water.

        January 17, 2014 at 6:19 am |
  4. JAL

    See. This is why Fareed is the boss.

    January 17, 2014 at 10:32 am | Reply
    • JAL

      ...or my boss anyway.

      January 17, 2014 at 10:34 am | Reply
  5. chrissy

    After re~reading my post i realise that it may be percieved as a verbal attack @ matslats. I sincerely did NOT mean it to sound that way at all. I meant there are alot of warmongering individuals in our society who NEED to wake up...war is UGLY! I do wish the congressional clowns would figure that out quickly!

    January 17, 2014 at 1:35 pm | Reply
  6. Allan Kinsman

    Human kind have created obstacles to any kind of clarity. War creates the means for corruption in the present world and anywhere where violence is used as a means. As long as the United States interferes in any kind of organized violence we will continue to disturb the natural social process which is self determination. Our interference has created a reaction which has brought about a determined terrorist attack against western governments. Europe and the United States have been after resources and our interests and money have created the problem. Money creates greed and greed and suffering create opportunities for insurgency. We react to this violence by using violence rather than finding real solutions to suffering. Now our presence there fuels a fundemental reaction. Another failure of a long failed foreign policy.

    January 18, 2014 at 10:54 am | Reply
  7. chrissy

    AMEN @ Alan Kinsman once again! SPOT ON! And greed is the downfall of MANY powerful men!!!

    January 18, 2014 at 11:27 am | Reply
  8. chrissy

    It is also a mortal sin!

    January 18, 2014 at 11:29 am | Reply
  9. Allan Kinsman

    I don't know if greed is a sin but when people are unable to feed their families and they are surrounded by the super rich it creates a feeling and the example of injustice. This leads to the influence of those which can manipulate their emotions by reason and money. Injustice creates opportunity, in any country. America evolved the ideal life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and for too long we have lived on the illusion rather than any true pursuit. If a child can perceive injustice and is willing to give their life, we need to reconsider our policies which help create such imbalances here and abroad. Common sense needs to find a way back into American perception.

    January 18, 2014 at 11:51 am | Reply
  10. chrissy

    So very very true again @ Alan! And we also MUST take a little responsibility while we are at it. As much as it hurts me to say this...alot of the fault falls on us. The citizens of the US. For we are the ones who continuelly have voted in these same congressional clowns. We need to make more educated decisions when we vote!!

    January 18, 2014 at 1:21 pm | Reply
    • Allan Kinsman

      You make a excellent point. However the parties separated by a thin wire control the monies. They point fingers at each other all the while selling us, the American, down the river. This paradigm has worked now for sometime. I still hope for reason but with the country going bankrupt both by finance and thought one wonders now the degree of difficulty coming our way.

      January 18, 2014 at 3:50 pm | Reply
  11. Mahesh S

    I agree with Fareed's insightful points but I see hope if leaders in the Middle-east can set an example of reaching out. This should really be the trend in the region. Perhaps Maliki can set an example here first by making good his promises of jobs etc to the tribes of Anbar he has entered into an alliance with and the Sunnis of cities like Ramadi. Second he should seriously invest money from Iraq oil exports into Anbar and employ locals in an effort at rebuilding the city..once people of cities like Falluja see their brethren prospering in other towns of the Sunni heartland, they'll think of what future an organzation like ISIS will be able to offer them. This should happen throughout the region where there are minorities. Hard as it may sound Assad should start reaching out to minorities and give them an effective voice in a transitional government, Bahrain and Saudi should do the same towards its Shia minorities. Such steps while it may not turn back the clock will lessen the poison in the regions atmosphere and build a foundation for eventual reconciliation, one that the jihadis may find it harder to break. They will also eventually find themselves without fuel for their fire.

    January 18, 2014 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  12. chrissy

    But as you @ Alan, just pointed out (in a round about, delicate way) it really isn't working correct? Yes things need to change, but if WE THE PEOPLE don't push for that change you can bet your last dollar, and that may be the case sooner than later, that nothing WILL change! One thing this country does need is TERM LIMITS on our elected officials! And an age cap might not be a bad idea either! They are entirely TOO comfortable and lazy in their appointed positions. Oh and also set for life it seems! They've become nothing but high end welfare recipients with huge bankrolls from their special interest groups. And if WE THE PEOPLE dont stand up and make a change who will??

    January 18, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Reply
    • Allan Kinsman

      We could vote out who is in everytime. This would grab the attention of those who truly run things!

      January 18, 2014 at 5:46 pm | Reply
    • Allan Kinsman

      When you go to the polls where do you see a choice? For change? It seems to me it is mirred in "keeping things from change". I believe the election process was designed to change things when they got to a place as we see but our forefathers did not predict how the forces of power could shape a trajectory. They were principled.

      January 20, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Reply
      • banasy©

        The Citizen's United decision did much to harm the way our officials are elected. Take big money out of the equation, and perhaps we'd see some honorable candidates.

        January 20, 2014 at 5:38 pm |
  13. chrissy

    Lol yea that would be one way to implement term limits wouldnt it?

    January 19, 2014 at 1:38 am | Reply
  14. chrissy

    Precisely why we must educate ourselves about the candidates that are placed on those voting ballots! Such as their voting patterns.

    January 20, 2014 at 6:44 pm | Reply
  15. chrissy

    As well as just EXACTLY who their larger campain contributors are. Those would be the "special interest groups" that they usually represent when it comes time for congressional votes.

    January 20, 2014 at 9:19 pm | Reply

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