One of the classes I am taking this semester is History of the Middle East since World War I. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t my first choice of class; however, it counted for a few general education credits, it was online (which is nice with Kiddo around), and it did sound genuinely interesting. It also sounded useful considering all that is happening in the world today. (I have a theory that World War III is going to come out of the current state of the Middle East, but that is a post for another day.)
I’ve learned some interesting things in these first two weeks of the semester. First of all, I can’t believe how badly I was taught about the first world war. Everything I learned about it was through a program called Academic Decathlon, which is, quickly put, a nerd competition. One year all of our subjects were based around the first world war, and I thought myself well-informed. Well, apparently it wasn’t, because the Ottoman empire was barely mentioned and it was, in fact, very important.
Second of all, sometimes Europe just needs to mind its own business. The roots of much of the Middle Eastern conflict, especially the civil wars, rest in the fact that the borders were commonly placed in a fairly random manner. There are no logical divisions along ethnic or terrain boundaries. Britain and France just pulled out a map and said, “You take this part, I’ll take this.” Previous promises to Middle Eastern officials and regions about independence were for the most part ignored. Israel is a whole other mess, which I haven’t yet decided to be positive or negative, though I look forward to learning more about it.
In summary, I’ve learned a lot about that area of the world just in two weeks. This is going to be a good semester.