On August 4, a massive explosion devastated Beirut’s port and the surrounding area. My corner of the Twitter-verse quickly filled with videos and speculation about the blast. Friends and colleagues expressed anguish and anger, especially as the likely cause, 2750 metric tons of ammonium nitrate stored without safety measures, became apparent.
However, for those without ties to the region, the awful boom of the Beirut explosion has already begun to fade into the background noise of generalized global tragedy; it will recede even faster into the steady hum of violence that so frequently emanates out of the Middle East. To many Americans, the Middle East seems a dysfunctional mess, wracked by religious extremism, authoritarian atrocities, serial corruption, and now the glaring evidence of criminal neglect.
Yet while Americans click past horror in the Middle East, our sense of remove is based on perceived powerlessness to change anything “over there” — a sense predicated on ignoring the United States’ own role in creating the instability and poor governance that plagues the region. From arming the ruling autocrats to outright invasions with the goal of regime change, US involvement in the region is motivated by the post-Cold War quest for military dominance. This has created a self-perpetuating dynamic of repression and violence.
Read the full article in Instick Media.