Americans would never understand the Mideast because the Mideast is so old, whereas America is so young …

From “The thousand Year War in the Mideast” by Richard Maybury P. 56

Why do we in the West fail to understand the Mideast? One reason was pointed out by Egyptian president Anwar Sadat just before he was assassinated in 1981. Sadat said Americans would never understand the Mideast because the Mideast is so old, whereas America is so young.

Jericho is the world’s most ancient city. Many Muslims cite archaeologists who say Jericho goes back 10,000 years.

American civilization is only about 450 years old, so measured against this 10,000-year Muslim time clock, American civilization is still in it’s infancy, only 4.5% the age of the Mideast. The U.S. itself is even younger, only 2% the age of the Mideast.

This is more important than it sounds. Having the world’s newest civilization, Americans have an unusually brief time perspective. To us, something that happened fifty years ago falls under the category of ‘old.’ It is a bygone, we’ve forgotten about it and forgiven everyone involved. In 1945 we were at war with the Japanese and Germans, now we are friends.

… this isn’t to say past events do not affect us. They do, we carry a lot of baggage. But American culture is young, very forward looking, and founded on the two laws, so we try to jettison the baggage whenever we can, we find it embarrassing.

In the Mideast, fifty years ago is just yesterday. To them, the founding of the state of Israel in 1949 falls under the category of current events.

It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that in the Mideast there are no bygones. Any injury suffered in the past two thousand years is still fresh. Ask a Lebanese guerrilla why he fights and he is likely to say, ‘In 1842 their great-great grandfather killed my great-great grandfather.’ “

The laws of biology are the fundamental lessons of history …

— The Lessons of History P. 19 – 21

… the laws of biology are the fundamental lessons of history. We are subject to the processes and trials of evolution, to the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest to survive. If some of us seem to escape the strife or the trials it is because our group protects us; but that group itself must meet the tests of survival.

So the first biological lesson of history is that life is competition. Competition is not only the life of trade, it is the trade of life — peaceful when food abounds, violent when the mouths outrun the food. Animals eat one another without qualm; civilized men consume one another by due process of law. Cooperation is real, and increases with social development, but mostly because it is a tool and form of competition; we cooperate in our groups — our family, community, club, church, party, ‘race,’ or nation — in order to strengthen our group in its competition with other groups. Competing groups have the qualities of competing individuals: acquisitiveness, pugnacity, partisanship, pride. … We are acquisitive, greedy, and pugnacious because our blood remembers millenniums through which our forebears had to chase and fight and kill in order to survive, and had to eat to their gastric capacity for fear they should not soon capture another feast. War is a nation’s way of eating. It promotes cooperation because it is the ultimate form of competition. …

The second biological lesson of history is that life is selection. In competition for food or mates or power some organisms succeed and some fail. In the struggle for existence some individuals are better equipped than others to meet the tests of survival. Since Nature (here meaning total reality and its processes) has not read very carefully the American Declaration of Independence or the French Revolutionary Declaration of the Rights of Man, we are all born unfree and unequal: subject to our physical and psychological heredity, and to the customs and traditions of our group; diversely endowed in health and strength, in mental capacity and qualities of character. Nature loves differences as the necessary material of selection and evolution; identical twins differ in a hundred way, and no two peas are alike.

Inequality is not only natural and inborn, it grows with the complexity of civilization. Hereditary inequalities breed social and artificial inequalities; every invention or discovery is made or seized by the exceptional individual, and makes the strong stronger, the weak relatively weaker, than before. Economic development specializes functions, differentiates abilities, and makes men unequally valuable to their group. If we knew our fellow men thoroughly we could select thirty per cent of them whose combined ability would equal that of all the rest. Life and history do precisely that, with a sublime injustice reminiscent of Calvin’s God.

Nature smiles at the union of freedom and inequality in our utopias. For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies. Leave men free, and their natural inequalities will multiply almost geometrically, as in England and America in the nineteenth century under laissez-faire. To check growth of inequality, liberty must be sacrificed, as in Russia after 1917. Even when repressed, inequality grows; only the man who is below average in economic ability desires freedom; and in the end superior ability has its way. Utopias of equality are biologically doomed, and the best that the amiable philosopher can hope for is an approximate equality of legal justice and educational opportunity. A society in which all potential abilities are allowed to develop and function will have a survival advantage in the competition of groups. This competition becomes more severe as the destruction of distance intensifies the confrontations of states.

The third biological lesson of history is that life must breed. Nature has no use for organisms, variations, or groups that cannot reproduce abundantly. She has a passion for quantity as prerequisite to the selection of quality; she likes large litters, and relishes the struggle that picks the surviving few; doubtless she looks on approvingly at the upstream race of a thousand sperms to fertilize one ovum. She is more interested in the species than in the individual, and makes little difference between civilization and barbarism. She does not care that a high birth rate has usually accompanied a culturally low civilization, and a low birth rate a civilization culturally high; and she (here meaning Nature as the process of birth, variation, competition, selection, and survival) sees to it that a nation with a low birth rate shall be periodically chastened by some more virile and fertile group. Gaul survived against the Germans through the help of Roman legions in Caesar’s days, and through the help of British and American legions in our times. When Rome fell the Franks rushed in from Germany and made Gaul France; if England and America should fall, France, whose population remained almost stationary through the nineteenth century, might again be overrun”