I’m sure most Americans aren’t surprised that the vast majority of the media reports and pundit prognostications are fairly misleading in regard to what’s really happening in the Middle East and what it may mean to America. Unlike others, I don’t believe these misleading reports are the result of a left-wing media conspiracy, nor do I believe they are misleading by design due to some kind of media conspiracy.
I have come to the conclusion that the poor and misleading coverage is the result of two things– the fact that most of the people doing the reporting don’t have a very good understanding of what they’re reporting on (like which uprisings are religiously motivated, how culture plays into the scene, how the current forms of government actually govern, etc.), and the fact that most Americans assess and understand what’s happening in other parts of the world through a largely ethnocentric perspective.
I’ve been to Saudi Arabia and North Africa, including Cairo and Alexandria, and I consult fairly regularly with people who have lived and worked in the region. The Middle East is made up of many countries, with different histories, tribes, religions, and types of leadership structures that make each country unique to itself. It is a complicated area. A short blog isn’t the right forum to help educate everyone about each of these countries, nor to predict what the outcome of all the current unrest bodes for them. But perhaps we can use this blog opportunity for a simple, fun exercise that might help us appreciate a bit more about the region in question.
This link will take you to a map of the Middle East, and ask you to find the various countries on the map. See how many countries you and your friends can correctly identify. The map will automatically accept right answers and reject wrong ones.
Let’s at least start with finding out where the heck these countries are, and visually get an idea of the importance of their locations. For example, it is important to understand that Egypt borders both Libya and Israel.
Remember, “It’s an out of control world. But while we have no control over it, we have power in it.” — The Power of Losing Control
I hope this blog and the fun link helps you feel a bit more powerful (or at least more knowledgeable) about an out of control situation.