Middle Eastern Ways

Waxing Geopolitical.

Robert Fernea

In the 70s, I studied “Peoples and Cultures of the Middle East” under renowned Anthropologist Robert A. Fernea and “World Cultural/Regional Geography” under celebrated Cultural Geographer Paul Ward English. a leading expert on the cultural geography of the Middle East, a term which loosely refers to the area from Libya East to Afghanistan and usually includes Egypt, Sudan, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the other countries of the Arabian peninsula.

Several anecdotal lessons have stayed with me.

One has to do with premarital and extramarital sexual relations. That being that the person wearing the burka entering the “women’s quarters” may be both welcome and not female. And everybody knows that.

Another has to do with the incomparable creativity of swearing in that part of the world. If I in the heat of the moment were to call you “a swine-suckled son of seven generations of jackals”, you’d probably just give me a blank stare. But in some parts of the Middle East it’s highly likely that I’d lose my head in the moment before I could draw another breath.

But more to the point in these times is an ancient, yet always current, Bedouin adage about fealty.

It goes, as I learned at the time, “With my brother against my cousin and with my father against my brother.” But on the ‘net it usually comes as, “I against my brother, I and my brother against our cousin, I, my brother and our cousin against the neighbors, All of us against the foreigner.”

It is incomprehensible to me is that so fundamental and widely-held a political premise has never and does not now inform U. S. foreign policy.

It’s absolutely the key to everything, folks..