Gary Hart's Recommended Reading
In a June 2, 2007 column, Former Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Gary Hart suggested some recommended reading and a homework assignment for American imperialists ignorant of Middle Eastern history:
For all but the perversely ignorant, it should be apparent by now that America suffers when it elects leaders who choose not to read. I say "choose" because, whatever else may or may not have happened there, somewhere between Yale and Harvard surely George W. Bush learned how to read. But he seems to have chosen not to. Had he chosen to read, current events could well have turned out much better.
Take for example the second chapter in Stephen Kinzer's very important book All the Shah's Men. This chapter is a brilliant essay on the history of Persia, Islam, and modern Iran set in the context of a larger, dismaying story of how the U.S. overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh led directly to the age of terror, the confrontation between the West and fundamentalist Islam, and the unnecessary Iraqi quagmire.
Wouldn't it be quaint to have discussions among presidential candidates about the history of the Middle East and the lessons to be drawn from it instead of the hollow, shallow, ritualized "debates" that only the pundits and insiders watch for clues to cleverness, cleverness now being highly prized over intelligence and leadership? What if candidates were asked to read a very important book like Stephen Kinzer's and write an 800-word essay on what they learned from it? Most of all, might it not be important to have a discussion among presidential candidates as to whether a republic, in this case the United States of America, can also be an empire.