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The book is a general device that has been generated entirely on developing a general history of the Middle East since the end of the First World War. The author brings to our attention by starting the book on riveting accounts of the first meeting he held with Osama Bin Laden. In this case, it is important to note that Fisk is among the few journalists from the west who have managed holding interviews with the Al- Qaeda leader. In addition to this, he is considered to give a neutral account regarding the true picture of the Middle East. From the encounter with Laden, the author proceeds to give us his experience as a journalist in the Middle East. The Middle East is known in the wide world as one of the most important region in the world especially due to its location. In addition to the Middle East's geographical position being very important to the whole world, it is understood that this area is rich in history and several natural resources. The Middle East has for a very long time been the centre of attraction to the world through out ages. In relation to this, the Middle East has had several changes, for instance the focused system that the Middle East was known for has entirely been replaced by the fragmented system. The region has been reigned by transformations and instability for almost seven decades, leaderships have replaced and changed their leaders and the aspirations most of the middle east citizens have had for a very long time have failed to become successful.
The book is based on the over thirty year's experience that the author has had in reporting about the unfoldings in the Middle East. In addition to this, there is a hidden element relating to the author's philosophical, ethical and moral approach that the author has based his life's work on. The author strongly believes that it is the responsibility of the every journalist to ensure that what they report to the outside world regarding the bloody and tragedy shrewd Middle East is not biased. The journalists are supposed to report what is exactly taking place so as not to fail their viewers and readers. The author strongly asserts that the journalists have been very successful in bringing to the attention of their readers and viewers how, who, where and what relating to events but they have failed in explaining the why of these events. From the book, it is clear on how the author identifies with the Palestinians in the same way he would identify with any person who is feeling oppressed and exploited. The Irish while under the Britons, the rule of the French in Algeria and while under the York of their own people and the GIA terrorists is an illustration of how the author identifies himself to be an unbiased journalist. The same is shown of the Armenians while they were under the Turks of Ottoman.
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A hypocrisy underlining the incumbent in the international affairs arena is brought to light by the author. An example used by the author is that of the 1983 when Donald Rumsfeld, the United States defense secretary lauded Saddam Hussein the Iraq president as "our friend in the region", it should be noted that it was the American government that helped arm Iraq soldiers in their fight against the Iran revolutionary. Perturbing, twenty years after this, what do we see taking place? The same American government is invading Iraq and fighting it. The same Saddam Hussein that they helped in fighting Iran is branded a threat to human and world peace, did Saddam Hussein change to be a different person? Or he was the same Hussein that they supported? This can be used to show how western nations hide in their hypocrisy. Hussein was the same person, engulfed with dictatorship and brutal as he was so many years back when they were helping him fight Iran.
For every journalist, Fisk believes that carrying a history book in ones pocket should be mandatory as it will help in bringing to the attention of where and how we have managed to e where we are currently. Similarly, the book is important as it remind the journalist why yesterday's horrors and injustices are still clearly engraved in people's minds and how they play a crucial part in dictating what happens next. To show how this fact is true, the author uses various illustrations on his experiences while working in the Middle East. In one of these illustrations, Fisk gives as an unfolding that happened in the 2001 when a number of refuges turned on him and started stoning him. Fisk's head was split open and blood was all over his face clouding hi9s vision from this experience, Fisk never thought that he would make it. While fighting hard to survive, Fisk started wondering what he was doing. Fisk was fighting and punching the same people he was writing about, the people who he had considered dispossessed, mutilated and oppressed. The people who America had killed their families by bombing them had turned on him, becoming his enemies.
The book is entirely based on the numerous stories that Fisk has covered relating to war rumors, wars and one of the stories in the book is about the Afghanistan turbulence that was in 1979 invasion by the soviets to the present day, the Israel invasion of 1982 to Lebanon and the massacres that were experienced by the Palestinians in Shatila and Sabra refugee camps by people who were believed to be Christian vigilantes. In addition to this, Fisk has looked at the invasion of Iraq by the Americans. This is an book is considered as an autobiography through which Fisk unfolds to us that even while he was still a child, his passion was to become a foreign correspondent. A correspondent that is fueled by the conviction of family and father in relation to the how noble the United Kingdom imperial mission is. However, instead of Fisk becoming a reporter who delivers news of righteousness to the country and its rulers, he becomes a reporter who observes the Conquest of the Middle East by the westerners.
The first chapter is one of our brother's had a dream, t6his is a chapter that is dedicated tot eh interviews that Fisk held with the Al-Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden in the Afghanistan mountains. The author derives the topic of the chapter from the dream said to have been had by one of the Osama followers. In the chapter we are shown how Osama tries to convert Fisk by telling him of a dream one of his men had regarding Fisk as the chosen one. In the dream, Fisk was dressed in a robe and he wore a beard, he was approaching the people on a horse's back a symbol that a true Muslim according to Osama Bin Laden. In Fisk's interpretation, he considered this as the attempts of Osama to try and convert him into joining his organization. To Fisk, the conquest of the Middle East is based on hypocrisy, self delusion and arrogance.
From the comparisons that Fisk delivers to us regarding the intrusions of the western to the Middle East both the past and the present is an indication of how well he knows and understands the history subject. The comparison is apt. the picture presented of the mistreatment of the Middle East by western nations is not a very fond one. The horrors that Saddam Hussein undergoes through in his rule, the 1990sAlgerian war that was very brutal, the destruction of Hama by Assad in 1982 and many more examples are used in the book to show how obscene cruelty that was an inside jobs work are clearly illustrated.
The interest of the western nation to the Middle East is said to have started during the conquering of Egypt by Napoleon in 1798. The Britons and French's interest in these regions rose in the 1800s and 1900s when the two nations conquered some parts of North Africa. However, it is indicated that the real interest rose in when the world war one ended and the Ottoman Empire collapsed in 1918. The Middle East broke down and the nations started being divided into single states which brought about the fragmented system. The independent states that were formed were under the mandate of the Europeans whose main objective was to conquer and divide the one known Ottoman Empire. Later, the divisions led to independent states, for instance, Lebanon is said to have gotten its independence from the French in 1943. The last six decades have seen the Middle East go through three major transformations; the geographic aspects, religious aspect and the economic aspect.
In the chapter on They Shoot Russians, Fisk bases this chapter on a story that took place in 1980 when the soviets invaded Afghanistan. Fisk chronicles most of the problems undergone by the soviets as they dealt with the mujahedeen afghan. Fisk gives an account of all the troubles undergone from the time the soviets invaded Afghanistan till the time they left. In addition tot his, an account of the invasion and the effects galvanizing had in relation to the thousand people that were recruited in to the army which by far played a crucial part in the formation of the radical Islam that was to be seen in the country. The Choirs of Kandahar is a chapter that continues unfolding all the things that took place in Afghanistan when the soviet invaded it. The Russians in this case according to the author were fighting a war that would bring a stop to the international terror, terror they believed some groups were conducting, they believed that by invading Afghanistan, the terrors would be combated and broiught6 to a stop. On the other angle, the Afghans were fighting for Allah and against the aggression they believed was as a result of communism.
Basing our argument from the geographic standpoint, the Middle East is argued to be located in the middle of the world. This therefore indicates that it is acting as the crossing bridge between Europe and the Far East. The Suez Canal represents a symbol of this link between the east and the west. Napoleon Bonaparte in 1798 noticed the strategic significance of the canal which later transformed into becoming the artery of the empire of the British in linking India. In addition to this, the Suez Canal was able to shorten a fifteen days trip into five days and the ships that were being employed were able to be spared from crossing through the Cape of Good Hope. The Britons took control of Aden, Yemen which was known as the port to the red sea. In addition to this, the British took control of the Strait of Gibraltar which was also the entrance to the Mediterranean. The strategic acquisition of these important regions gave the British an upper hand politically over the Middle East.
The Suez Canal played an important role in the economic aspect. Any nation that was in control of this canal was sure of a sustained economic environment. The French, the Egyptians and the British fought over the control of this canal due a reason that can be said to be valid. This factor made the Egyptian president Gamel Abdel Nasser to nationalize the canal in 1956. The discovery of oil in the Middle East gave the area an economic advantage. It should be noted that the entire world economy relies on oil; all aspects of the economy are reliable on oil. All those nations that were rich with oil in the Middle East became rich with what was termed to as petrodollars and this is the main difference between the rich and poor nations within the Middle East.
From the religious view, the Middle East is made up of three monotheistic religions. These religions account for almost half of the world's population. Cities that are considered holy such as Bethlehem, Mecca, Najaf, Qom, Karbala and Nazareth are all located within the Middle East. Each of the religions within the Middle East has their own origins and cultures and with this in mind, the differences between the religions are easily noted and thus leading to a lot of conflicts within the region such as the Arab - Israel conflict. The ninth chapter is on Sentenced to Death, in this chapter; Fisk gives us an account of his father in the British army during the world war one. The author gives an illustration as to how his father had the difficulties he experienced when he was supposed to participate in the executing one of their own soldiers in a firing squad.
Fisk illustrates how the United States and the UK together overthrew the Iran prime minister who was democratically elected, an indication of the interest that the western nations had on the Middle East. The overthrowing of the Prime Minister, Mohammed Mosaddeq, led to the 1979 Iranian revolution which led to Mohammed Rexa Pahlavi being deposed. The conflict between the Arabs and the Israelites is a key marker in Fisk's book. The author reminds us there are two true stories regarding the conflict each having its own victims and sense. Terrorism to the author is a fluid concept. The Jewish groups such as the Stern Gang and the Irgun terror groups were very notorious in roaming the Palestinian streets creating mayhem and murders as they tried to persuade the British to withdraw from their region and make Israel an independent state. This was before 1948. Today, it is surprising that the same people are referred to as heroes of the nation by a number of Israelis. The relation between the Israelis and the Palestinians is defined by the 1948 independence war or Nakba as most Palestinians refer to it.
The chapters on The Path to War, the Whirlwind War, War against War and the Fast Train to Paradise and Drinking the Poisoned Chalice are entirely relevant to looking at the case of Saddam Hussein and the war in Iraq. The 1980s war and the Iran and Iraq wars in addition to the tanker war are all tackled in this topic. The way Iran employed the usage of human wave strategies and the chemical weapons that were used by Hussein against Iran are clearly illustrated in the book. Seemingly the role of the western nations and USA in bringing the war to a close is clearly indicated. Fisk is said to have been reporting from the front line during the Iraq invasion and the Iranian war that was fighting Saddam Hussein. The Britons held a wild optimistic believes that a new Iraq would be borne, an Iraq that would have been regenerated by the westerners. The book brings out a clear facet regarding how history can be employed to align with the current en vogue alliances exhibited in politics. For instance how the Armenian genocide of 1915 and how it was handled while they were under the ottoman Turks. The author brings to our attention how most world leaders have shunned away from calling the act what it was.
The first holocaust is the tenth chapter and it is entirely devoted to the Armenian genocide. The author derives the topic for this chapter from the fact that the genocide which was organized by the Ottoman Empire government was executed in 1915 a few decades after the Jewish holocaust had taken place. The re is a historical context regarding the Armenian genocide especially those who were living in Armenia and Lebanon during this fateful time. The content in the chapter is entirely based on the numerous stories that are based on the interviews conducted by frisk on the people who managed to survive this ordeal. We are presented with a heavy criticism of Fisk against the Turkey stance of denials and the ones whop took over the embattled Ottoman Empire. In addition to this, the Israel government is neither spared from being criticized especially due to their failure to recognize the deportations and the perpetrators of these unthought-of acts. The British government is also criticized in its ignoring to take action tot hose perpetrators of the massacres.
The Fifty Miles from Palestine is a chapter that is devoted tot eh the unending conflict between the Arabs and the Israelites from 1980s and forth. In addition to this, the chapters; The Last Colonial War and the Girl and the Child Love are also committed to illustrating the conflict between the Israelites and the Arabs. Deaths on civilians in relation to suicide bombers and the Israel government military approach to the issue of the Palestinians are exploited in the chapters. In relation to the coverage by the journalist, Fisk tries to explain to us what role the mass media played in the coverage of the conflict and the various terminologies employed by the journalists in explaining the unfolding from both sides of the warring teams.
The term "Terrorist" has been emphasized on by the author and how it was used to implicate and refer to a particular side of the warring teams. Anything to Wipe a Devil is a chapter that is addressed to the Algerian war and how terrorism and torture was used by both sides to fight. The French army and the Algerian army were all determined in winning the war that took place in 1954 to 1962 and non of the sides was willing to throw in the towel, so Fisk unfolds to us how each team used uncouth techniques to fight its enemies . However, when the French later allowed the Algerians to have their independence, the book brings to our attention the internal details of the French power and the struggles it had to undergo. The issues of Islamist and secular were at logger head and the same continued leading to the Algerian civil war of 1991.
The impacts of Nasserism, Arab Nationalism, the rise of Pan Islam and the issue of Palestinian have shaped the Middle East's present and future. This is an indication that the future the Middle East hold is very uncertain. The Middle East history is shaped by two core empires. These empires have shaped and defined the region to what it is presently. The empires are said to have ruled for more than a thousand years and the last one is said to have ended in the start of the twentieth century. The Ottoman and Arab empires have each ruled the Middle East from the start of the 632 AD to 1910s these are the systems that were generally marked by the Focus System.
The book goes ahead to give us an explanation of how the constant mistakes of history and the various great world powers. A constant theme has been expounded on by the author as he reflects on the false promises made by various western countries including British both to the locals and the war torn Iraqis. In a number of ways, the various articles by Fisk can be said to be iconoclastic, it smashes the notions that have been preconceived regarding what the west has delivered to the different nations abroad, this is a lesson that the author considers never learnt by the people irrespective of the number of times its occurrences has taken place.
According to the author, invention has often been considered as a policy that is favored in the short run, however, the actions ends up proving that it is a failure in the long run. Various references and illustration are used to indicate how these policies have collapsed becoming total failures. For instance, the author refers to the destruction of the Iranian democracy in 1953 by the CIA and the Ajax as examples of how the policies have failed to bring light and achieve the goals that were anticipated for.