Power, Faith, Fantasy



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PAUL HARVEY

No, this is not a blog entry about my classroom teaching style or post-up game. Rather, just a brief reference to an excellent review of Michael B. Oren, Power, Faith, Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present. A couple of relevant passages for readers of this blog:

The conflict with the Barbary states was about power, the first factor in Oren's epitome of US involvement in the Middle East. The second factor is faith, and is exemplified in the activities of American missionaries in the region. Evangelical Protestants could not fail to be interested in the fate of Palestine, and their interest was enhanced by the prevalence of Restorationism, that doctrine which held that the Second Coming of Christ must be preceded by the restoration of the Jews to Palestine. American missionaries, however, found it difficult to establish themselves in Palestine or to accomplish much in the way of conversion.

The reviewer finds the work diverting to read, but criticizes the work for exaggerating America's influence on the region, and vice versa, and wonders why the author

says little about the Iraq war and does not explain the great mystery of how a so-called war against (Islamic) terror had as its centrepiece the destruction of one of the principal secular barriers to its spread.

A good question indeed -- but there are dots to be connected here from the first quotation above to the second, and in the rhetoric of crusade which pervaded the earliest phase of the war.

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