Who are the Kuwaitis?
Because of GWII, the story of Kuwait has become an important element in the story of Iraq — so I'm giving it its own mini-series. After all, when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, most Americans knew even less about the two countries than they do today — which is to say that they knew absolute fuck-all. Bottom line is that I didn't feel I could explain Iraq without explaining Kuwait. So, who are the Kuwaitis?
To gain an expert-level understanding of Kuwaiti history requires knowing the biographical details of about two dozen men — tops — who lived over the last four centuries. This should make it abundantly obvious that Kuwait is just like every other Arabian Emirate — a totalitarian monarchy with two socio-economic classes: royal and insignificant. It's a political anachronism that should be barreling down the express lane to historical obscurity, rather than the holding title as the most prominent regional ally of a country that claims to be the most enlightened civilization of all time.
The likes of the Kuwaiti royal family don't belong on C-SPAN, they belong on the Sopranos. Their ouster by a thug like Saddam Hussein was really more apropos than outrageous — with regard to poetic justice, at least. Frankly, after Saddam Hussein, the most appropriate person to have taken over Kuwait would have to have been John Gotti.
Actually, I take that back. A cosmopolitan character like Gotti would rather gouge his own eyes out with a Martha Stewart Pez™ dispenser than spend any time in a dreary little backwater like Kuwait.
Too harsh? Let me sum up — oh — the first four thousand years of Kuwait's history: It was a mud-walled fishing settlement.
We don't know what it was called for most of that time, but for a couple hundred years before it became Kuwait, it was called Q'rain. It's coastal locale provided it with a steady flow of trade. This was a lucky break for Q'rain, because when you consider that Muslims do not drink alcohol, you realize that without some outside contact, the population of the squalid little town would have undoubtedly become suicidally bored.
It is believed that Kuwait served as a major trading center on the edge of the Dilium civilization. The Dilium were a bronze-age society, estimated to have existed from 2200BCE to 1800BCE. No doubt that Kuwait's importance during this era has been overshadowed and trivialized by a longstanding cultural and academic obsession with more attention-grabbing histrionics that were occurring in the region.
Most people would rather hear the action-packed tale of a man who leads his people from slavery to freedom after he's commanded to do so by a flaming shrub claiming to be God. When you seriously consider that this entertaining event, and many others like it, are critical components in the religious beliefs of most humans, you will immediately realize that we are doomed as a species. You'll also realize that Kuwait's ancient history never had a prayer of inspiring a three-and-a-half hour Cecil B. DeMille melodrama.
To put it succinctly, very few people give a crap about the early myrrh trade, or even what the fuck myrrh is for that matter.
Kuwait: Crossroads of Not Much
Kuwait City is located on the shores of — now you may see a naming convention emerging here — Kuwait Bay. The sea provided the region with a viable industry: fishing and shrimping. The coastal location gave it some environmental appeal as well. The miles of beach — created where the desert slopes gently into the bay — undoubtedly made Kuwait City one of the more pleasant places to escape the oppressive summer temperatures that average 112°F/45°C in June.
In addition to being a relatively pleasant place to live, Kuwait City also has excellent access to the Persian Gulf. Then again, so did Umm Q'sar, and for a long, long time access to the Persian Gulf wasn't considered that big a deal anywhere outside of the countries that bordered on The Persian Gulf.
Things might has stayed that way had China's first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty not decided to make his realm the All-Time Best Example of Why Isolationism is a Stupid Policy™. Actually, that was only part of it.
Kuwait's real excitement came in the form of periodic Arab invasions. Historically, Kuwait has served as the port city of choice for whatever prevailing Semitic tribe has lost control of Basra to the Persians. The Mesopotamians, Sumerians, Babylonians, or whoever were the people who ruled the area in and around Baghdad, periodically invaded the sleepy coastal village in order to gain access to the Persian Gulf — but only when their bitter rivals to the East had defensible supremacy along the Shatt-al-Arab waterway.
Even Hammurabi, who is most famous for inventing the rule of law, accomplished this famous innovation after he'd first marched his army from the general vicinity of Baghdad and invaded the general vicinity of Kuwait. Again, it wasn't the most preferred conquest, but it was always easier than fighting the Persians — a foe whom the wise never take lightly.
In all of its known history, the only occasions on which Kuwait has ever been successfully defended, were those that occurred when the Emirate was occupied by the armed forces of Earth's Reigning Imperial Power. In case you were wondering, on each such occasion, the aforementioned Reigning Imperial Power spoke English.
Now you know why the Kuwaitis — or, at least the Kuwaitis who are permitted to express an opinion — love the Americans enough to overlook the fact that we don't give a crap about anything in Kuwait that isn't priced by the barrel.
Sorry, I got back on that oil subject again. Truth be told, Kuwait's problems started before it became one of the many custodians of America's oil. Like any of us, the Kuwaitis are only human, a trait which usually portends something disappointing.
COPYRIGHT © 2003 Winston Smith
Click this link for © details