Pages from Michael Butler's Journal


Michael Butler

Letter from Michael Butler to my Friends and Acquaintances, In answer to inquiries

What to do? Many thoughts but I have one suggestion which might give a solution to the long term aspects of our relations with the world.

I think all, surely most of us, feel that we are leaving a terrible mess for our children. The young have a very bleak future. When you really think about it you must realize that we are creating that future at this very moment. Greed as a predominate aspect on one side with poverty on the other side. Even selfish concern should makes us realize that the poor out number us by many times.

Spiritualism with compassion for all is the path we must follow in our approach to these problems.

My specific suggestion is to turn to the Youth. They can be our salvation in changing the world, which they are going to inherit, for the better. I suggest that the UN has another Youth Assembly. An gathering which this time will have some force. I feel that the young can come up with a blueprint which could give them the type of world they wish to have. I am trusting that their ideas will be fresh without so much of the baggage of the past. It would then behoove the establishment to assist in the execution of their ideas. Some would be far out and many impractical, but most will be worthwhile in an expression of their desires.

I would put my trust in their minds to lead us into a bright new world.

During the late 50's, early 60's I spent a lot of time in the Middle East. At one time I even had a villa in Turkey, at Beylerbey, on the Asia side, looking across the Bosphorus. I could commute by boat to Istanbul. This was before the bridge.

I was working for Intrafi and Butler Overseas in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. I also reported to Sen. John F. Kennedy on many issues. Jack felt he could get a better perspective through commercial means than via diplomatic sources. That belief does prevail today.

One of my principal projects was the engineering for the Reconstruction of the Hejaz RR. This was the railroad of Lawrence of Arabia fame. That was a major precursor of the problems we have with the Arab world. This story is well written in Lawrence's "Seven Pillars of Wisdom". During WW1 the Allies wanted to destroy the Hejas RR as it was the principle instrument of Ottoman domination over the Middle East. To accomplish this they enlisted the help of the Arab tribes and promised them independence. The Allies betrayed this promise and carved up the Middle East between them.

Later, the Americans promised to rebuild the Hejas RR for the Moslem religious. You see, in the beginning the Sultan of Turkey built the railroad with millions of contributions from Moslems all over the world. The stated purpose was to give pilgrims easier access from Constantinople to Makkah and Madinah. Of course the road also gave the Turkish military access to that part of the world. The Americans never carried out their promise.

Instead of running for the U.S. Senate I produced HAIR. I felt this show could do much to diffuse an alarming trend in America. Attitudes over the country were so polarized that many of us believed another Civil War was possible.

HAIR was a way of expressing to an audience of usually influential people another approach to living, a dialogue between generations. The hippie philosophy of Tolerance, Freedom, Compassion, Peace and Love.

My branch of the Butlers came from Ireland in 1654. They were sons of a ruling family escaping the political and religious persecutions of Oliver Cromwell.

While I had great sympathy for the problems of North Ireland I felt as I was an American: my responsibilities and loyalties were to this country. Irish problems are best left to them. I feel that it is not proper for me to compromise principles of fair play by taking sides. "Stay out of foreign entanglements". Treat both sides equally. In other words I am an American of Irish descent, not an Irishman. Just as there are Americans of Arab and Jewish descent, who are neither Israeli's nor Palestinians.

For this reason, I repeated told Jack Kennedy and wrote in my reports. "The Palestinian problem is the groundwork for World War III. We must take an equal position in helping to solve this problem."

So what do we do now. We are faced with "A foreign entanglement" we did not ask for nor certainly want. No wildest flight of imagination could not have created the scenario of September 11th.

There are three phases of responding.

In the beginning, we need to bring the terrorists to justice, along with those who aid and harbor them. People are going be killed, blood will be shed, great damage down. I fear there is no way around such acts. We must free our military to do the best, swiftest job possible. No matter how odious it is to all of us who believe in peace there is no other way. I am afraid that this phase cannot be completed in Afghanistan. Other areas will need to be pursued. In particularly Iraq where the next Hitler should have been put down after the Gulf War.

Overreaction is an American habit. How many other people and countries have lived with terrorism for decades, frequently with greater devastation than any of our experience. Our reaction is giving terrorism a great victory; crippling many activities and industries thus damaging the economy.

Next the Palestine question needs to be settled in a fair and even handed way. The American support of Israel has been perceived world wide as too one sided. It has allowed Israel to ignore the UN position. The PLA has not taken the position it must to stop the terrorist acts of such as Hamas. It was obvious, when I reported decades ago to JFK, that the refugees in Palestine were a festering sore. I believe it has been a sore kept open by elements on both sides of the conflict to give them platforms for power.

Jerusalem would be a lesser problem if it was declared an international city, a capital to monotheism and all three religions, Christians, Jews, and Moslems.

We need to be the active, acknowledged driver of aid to what areas of the Islamic world are in need. I don't mean just throwing money, but assistance in those areas enabling them to make it on their own.

At home we need to concentrate on bringing to use other forms of energy to free us from our dependance on imported oil. Such freedom will remove us from the necessity of being so involved in the "foreign entanglements" of the Middle East. It is unfortunate that we hear little from the political/media establishment. about alternative energy.

Finally, we have a long term task before us. That is to get our message across. For a long time we have created resentment of our cultural and financial hegemony over large portions of the world. We are an example of inequality between the poor and the rich. Materialism has become the driving force of our philosophy of life. Greed, the bottom-line, has become the mantra of our current days. Globalization has become a dirty word. Though its proponents feel rightfully, that free trade is a major force for economic health over the world, globalization has suffered due to the perception that it is dominated by the greed of multinational corporations, mostly from America.

Religions, I am deeply concerned when they are into their fundamentalist side. In all the monotheistic religions, it is the fundamentalists who are one of the worlds greatest dangers. In their pursuit of perfection they succeed in damming the very principles expressed by their prophets. How can people make war in the name of God?

Entry added March 20th, 2002

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