Wherever the Mohammedans have had complete sway, wherever the Christians have been unable to resist them by the sword, Christianity has ultimately disappeared. From the hammer of Charles Martel to the sword of Sobieski, Christianity owed its safety in Europe to the fact that it was able to show that it could and would fight as well as the Mohammedan aggressor… Theodore Roosevelt

At least from the time that  Themistocles depended upon  Leonidas to confront  Xerxes at  Thermopylae – a battle lost due to treason rather than inability – and then had to wait on the victories at  Salamis and  Plataea to save the West from the East there has been a constant tension between the two – and those events occurred 500 years before the birth of Christ! The rise of Rome and the primacy of the Caesars in Egypt that was supplanted by the growth of Christianity which, in its turn, was challenged by Islam are all parts of a centuries long conflict between two ideas.

The idea of the west is the idea of the individual and of the society in service to the individual, becoming collective when needed for the good of the individual – all of this supported by reference to a personal God, who is the source of everything including the authority under which the state operates. The east, at best, has an indistinct notion of their deity often with the state or ruler assuming the function. Rather than being made in the image and likeness of their god, he is made in their image and likeness so there is no reference to external authority, no check to protect their humanity only the naked exercise of absolute power that makes them all subject to every call of the state.

Hitler’s claim that his greatest achievement would be that in order to fight him we would have to become like him.  Indeed using the Devil’s tactics to defeat the Devil proves every time that you can not achieve a good end by evil means. But simply calling duty evil does not make it so. We have duties. We must perform them with vigor and honor if we are to remain free to worship our God and our obligation to know, love and serve Him is our first duty and our greatest hope. Theodore Roosevelt understood this creed – he actually earned his Nobel Peace Prize by applying it in the middle east and the far east – and while Oren presents an interesting anecdotal history we feel the need to preface it with a few other words from President Roosevelt:

Failure to perform duty to others is merely aggravated by failure to perform duty to ourselves. Moreover, it should always be remembered that in these matters the weak cannot be helped by the weak; that the brutal wrongdoer cannot be checked by the coward or by the fat, boastful, soft creature who does not take the trouble to make himself fit to enforce his words by his deeds. Preparedness means forethought, effort, trouble, labor. Therefore soft men, selfish, indolent men, men absorbed in money-getting, and the great mass of well-meaning men who shrink from performing the new duties created by new needs, eagerly welcome a political leader who will comfort them, and relieve their secret sense of shame, by using high-sounding names to describe their shortcomings.

An adroit politician can unquestionably gain many votes in such fashion, if he exalts unpreparedness as a duty, if he praises peace and advocates neutrality, as both in themselves moral –even although the “peace” and “neutrality” may be conditioned on the failure to do our duty either to others or to ourselves. Such a politician, if he excels in the use of high-sounding words, may win votes and gain office by thus pandering to men who wish to hear their selfishness, their short-sightedness or their timidity exalted into virtues. But he is sapping the moral vitality of the people whom he misleads…. Theodore Roosevelt

Power, faith, and fantasy : America in the Middle East, 1776 to the present New York : W.W. Norton & Co., c 2007 Michael B. Oren United States Foreign relations Middle East Hardcover. 1st. ed., later printing. xxii, 778 p., [32] p. of plates : ill., maps, ports. ; 25 cm. Color maps on lining papers. Includes bibliographical references (p. [685]-733) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No  highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Beginning with the Barbary Wars of the eighteenth century and extending to the conflicts of today, the United States has been profoundly involved in the Middle East. America fought its first foreign war there and established its navy to meet a Middle Eastern threat. The region played a seminal role in shaping American identity — from the making of the U.S. Constitution to the writing of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Americans also helped define the Middle East by forging its bor­ders and introducing notions of national identity

The Middle East in turn inspired works by some of America’s preeminent artists, including Edith Wharton, and Mark Twain, and lured prominent leaders, among them Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt. The region also attracted generations of Americans who, impelled by faith, sought to educate, modernize, and proselytize its peoples.

Popularly perceived as a land of exoticism and danger, the Middle East has provided the backdrop for innumerable plays, songs, and movies. The object of controversial policies, it has formed the focus of intense public debate. Decision makers throughout the history of the United States have grappled with dilemmas in the Middle East and struggled to surmount its challenges.

Power, Faith, and Fantasy tells the remarkable story of America’s 230-year relationship with this crucial area. Drawing on a vast range of gov­ernment documents, personal correspondence, and the memoirs of merchants, missionaries, and travelers, the book reconstructs the diverse channels through which the United States has interacted with the Middle East.

The book also examines America’s artistic legacy in the Middle East, exploring the dynamic ways in which popular culture in the United States has portrayed the region and its peoples. By distinguishing the recur­rent themes in America’s Middle East involvement and by tracing their evolution over the course of more than two centuries, the book reveals the con­tinuity that binds this vital narrative in the nation’s history.

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