Monday, December 24, 2007

East vs West

In this book review of Thermopylae: The Battle that Changed the World, the reviewer discusses the "Hot Gates" as the start of the continuous war strewn tensions between the East and the West. Would you all think that the following summary as an appropriate summary of the last few millenia?
Xerxes, King of Persia, invades Europe; then Alexander, King of Macedon, conquers Asia. The Romans extend their empire eastward to Arabia; then the Arabs, in the seventh cen-tury, advance westward and over-run Rome's eastern provinces, taking most of Eastern Christendom into the sphere of Islam, and seizing Spain and part of Gaul. The Crusades are an attempt to reverse that verdict, initially successful but, in the long run, a failure. In 1453 the great Christian city of Constantinople finally falls to the Turks and is lost to the West. Islam and the Turks conquer and hold much of the Balkans, from which Turkish rule is expelled only after World War I.

Then comes the irresistible return to the region of British and French imperialism, followed by their eventual ejection; the establishment of Israel; the Suez fiasco of 1956 and the fall of the Shah of Iran in 1979; the rise of militant Arab nationalism, in constant conflict with the power of the West; the seizure of Western oil companies; the Gulf War; the hijacking of Western airliners; the American invasion of Iraq, and suicide bombers attacking Western cities; then the hot air, and the propaganda, and the growing conviction that Kipling was right, after all. Yes, Emily, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet...

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