Monday, April 6, 2015

Ed Knox on the Modern Middle East and More

by Scott Hynek 

Ed Knox, former CIA bureau chief and former history professor, spoke much like the latter on March 31 in describing the modern Middle East and how it came to be. Always important as the collection of land trade routes connecting Europe and Asia, it was how England got soldiers to and from India without going around the Cape of Good Hope, until the Suez Canal was built. He used a Peters projection map to show just how huge Africa really is, with a land area equal to that of China plus the USA plus India plus others.

Ed Knox described how Mohammad created community out of warring Arab tribes by promoting the five pillars of Islam – Acceptance of God (with himself as messenger), Prayer, Giving of Alms, Ramadan and the Hadj – all of which promote unity among Muslims (the schism between Sunni and Shia started later). He also described Mohammad as an enlightened conqueror.

He spoke of today's ungoverned areas (Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia and Venezuela) mostly anecdotally. He described our overthrowing Saddam as a terrible decision, allowed as how there is not much government in northern Nigeria, and described Venezuela as a narco-state. He sees Iraq as well along to becoming three separate (and weak) countries, even more subject to international meddling. Curiously, Ed Knox does not regard ISIS as significant as our sensationalist press would make it seem.

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