Mexico Yesterday, Mideast Today

Geography confuses me. It’s not that I’m stupid. I know there’s a Middle East, though I’m not sure what it is in the middle of, or what it is east of, or how it connects to the Midwest. I know there is a Middle South, too, you know…not as far south as “South” America but definitely south of “North” America, and—obviously—south of the Midwest, which used to be part of Mexico…the name we use for the Middle South! What really confuses me, though, is the difference between the Middle East and the Middle South.

Everyone knows that in the Middle East, it’s survival of the fittest. Just ask the Saddams and Salehs, for whom assassination paved their way to power. Just ask the Netanyahus and Ahmadinejads who waved the bloody flag of foreign threats to gain power. The Middle East is a land where differences matter. “Terrorism” is violence one opposes; “self-defense” is violence one supports. “Democracy” is voting for me; all else is inconceivable. The distinctions are crystal-clear. If you don’t believe me, just ask Santa Anna! Uh, sorry, he was in the Middle South.

The point’s the same, though. He got into a mess because a militarily advanced neighbor wanted his land (West Coast, West Bank). He also lost for the same reason – because he represented the conservative, rich elite who put their privileges ahead of their countries and gave their birthright away rather than countenance a popular movement for national liberation (which would have meant sharing the national wealth with those, you know, “lower” classes). Mubarak is reaching that age, you know. I wonder if Santa Anna is still alive! He would fit right in…over in Cairo.

There’s more similarities between the Middle East and Middle S…ah…Mexico. In both, the dominant military power spent a huge amount of effort marginalizing and slaughtering minorities, clearing the way for the advance of “democracy” (see definition, above). In both, military adventure was conducted with a self-defeating brutality that alienated civilians, equated banditry (terrorism) with freedom fighting, and transformed productive farmers into desperate fighters, who promptly attacked the invading troops of the dominant military power despite overwhelming odds (that’s what “desperate” means).

Anyway, I hope we’ve got the geography straightened out now. As for the politics, that’s easy, isn’t it? After all, it never changes.