I’ve always been fascinated by the conflict within Islam itself, largely represented by the two predominant factions of Sunni and Shi’i (often spelled Shia). Having spent nearly three years now living in a majority Sunni Muslim country, I’ve had the opportunity to observe at close range Islam’s majority “denomination” if you will. [Read more…]
“I cannot fiddle but I can make a great state from a little city.” -Themistocles (524 BC – 459 BC).
The various nations and geo-cultural territories that make up the Middle East have been denigrated, sometimes rightfully so, as “tribes with flags.” It is a region that has undoubtedly devolved into an archaic patchwork of peoples divided against each other in centuries old blood feuds and modern resource claims. Someone who endeavors to even begin to understand the cultural, religious, and historical features of the many tribes who make up that region would be embarking on a lifelong journey that could scarcely be completed in 100 years. [Read more…]
Two weeks ago I had an opportunity to be in the company of unparalleled greatness. I was asked to pick up Fred, an old family friend, from Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. Fred had just finished a tour of the World War II monument in Washington, DC.
As I stood just beyond the security checkpoint awaiting Fred’s arrival, the cheers grew in steady succession as our WWII veterans approached. Passengers, family, and airport staff stood around holding signs, waving flags, and clapping as a few dozen of the greatest generation made their way through the airport. [Read more…]
When the Khmer Rouge marched into Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975, the weather was a little warmer than the unforgiving heat I experienced during my visit. Clad all in black, two-piece pajama-like uniforms with checkered scarves around their necks and rubber sandals made from car tires strapped to their feet, they marched to cheers from the crowd. After five years of enduring a complicated civil war and periodic skirmishes with Vietnamese military, the people were likely happy just to see a familiar-faced Khmer army seize control from what had been a corrupt government. [Read more…]