Monday, September 01, 2008

Review: "Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to present."

Two nights ago I finished Michael Oren's Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to present. It's a healthy read at 615 pages. Thinking about it, Oren's book might be the longest book I've read. No, I've not touched "War and Peace."

My dad recommended the book and said that while academic, he really enjoyed it. I figured that I'd give it a shot and as it turns out, I loved it.

Oren starts off with the young United State's initial contact during the Barbary Wars. The Barbary Wars were two engagements with North African countries who collectively called themselves the Barbary states. They were somewhat related to the Ottoman Empire.

The Barbary states caused quite a stir as they were pirating the U.S. trade boats as we tried to do business with Mediterranean trading partners. The U.S. started off by paying off the pirates, but after that proved too expensive, we engaged them in war and assured our trading boats' safety.

Once the pirating issues got resolved, in our infinite wisdom, we started to send missionaries over to promote Christianity. I hold the belief that my religion is mine and your religion is yours. And I have no reason to try and convert you to my religion. Apparently leaders of the U.S. held a differing view than mine, and since failed mission after failed mission over to the Middle East. It when on like this for quit sometime.

The last two-hundred pages of the book is from World War I to present. This was the most interested for me. Oren covered how Zionism lead to the eventual creation of Israel. The Iran contra affair. Russia's invasion of Afghanistan and how we initially backed bin Laden. The last chapter finishes with the Iraq war and how our concentration there has lead to a resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

There are far too many things to discuss for me to get into in this short blog. However, if you're really interested in the history of our relationship with the Middle East, check out Oren's book. It's all you'll ever need to read for a thorough history lesson.


David said...

Interesting, I will have to read that one. I have always wondered why the Marine Corp anthem says something like "from the shores of Tripoli" for I was unaware of when we were at work in that local.

David said...

at war, that is