Fareed Zakaria has it right. It cannot be done with a lick and a promise. It will take long-term nurturing. Middle Eastern societies are still feudal in many ways.
- often live under despots or royal dynasties, beholden to Islam for their powers,
- do not have a significant industrial base with a middle class operating it,
- rarely allow women much freedom, even to work and produce goods,
- have never experienced democracy that ensures both freedom and liberty,
- are still basically an agrarian society,
- are attuned to taking directions from the mullahs, and
- aspire to a new and just global Caliphate, an Eighth-Century form of empire based on religion.
Add to these the fact that most existing democracies took a lot of time evolving into their present compositions. France is the type example of the struggle needed to complete the process. And some countries that are accepted as democracies today, really have not arrived yet, Russia and Venezuela are prime examples. Other success stories of the 20th Century only arrived at democracy after periods of totalitarian government that created a middle class only to eventually be overthrown by that middle class in its quest for democracy.
Fareed Zakaria points out these histories. A market economy came first. A middle class arose that eventually took power. Examples of success stories include Chile, South Korea, and Taiwan.
The rule of secular law above all other law takes time to get used to. A region that still aspires to a Caliphate will be slow to embrace new forms. Iraqi calls for an Islamic government are a perfect case in point.
In Vietnam, we did not know where the enemy lurked. In Iraq, while we are not sure what is the enemy, we should know where s/he potentially lurks: in the heads of Muslim extremists and their Authoritarian followers. Our very presence in Iraq may be a recipe for a long struggle for the hearts and minds of our Muslim brethren.
In a nation used to the quick-fix, we must get used to extended sacrifice. It will be needed to stay the course. This is a period where we will need all the help we can get. If we continue to alienate our allies and abuse the environment, nation rebuilding may well become impossible.
The lessons in Solutions and Hope provide insight for how to proceed.
From our Hope page:
People and nations collectively are making a difference. EU member nations have each given up something for their collective security, unity, and well-being. And each did so democratically. Hemispheres and cultures alike are bonding together in trade and other common interests. If these trends continue, peace among all nations could result within two or three generations.
These historic trends are consistent with the Research of Ashutosh Varshney, Associate Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Michigan. Varshney's kernel observation is that ethnic integration in all facets of society is the key to harmony. Europe is accomplishing essentially that. This finding, that ethnic integration brings peace, is also supported by the American experience in the 20th Century, Trent Lott notwithstanding.
Varshney's research, meeting the scientific standards of social science, provides understanding of how ethnic violence is being avoided or greatly limited between Hindus and Muslims today. Understanding how that process works vastly improves the long-term prospects for World peace. Remarkably, the results of this study largely explain the basis for the resurgence of Europe, especially in recent decades. >Like the Oasis of Peace and the Hope Flowers School, Dialogue is the key, lots of it.
Ethnic integration is the key for beginning. Unless that happens, democracy doesn't. From Varshney.
Bringing along a society to the point of accepting secular law as the law of the land and its people has never happened in Islam. We should be nurturing the middle classes and ethnic integration in all Middle Eastern nations instead of going to war on a whim.
We are not without power to do these things. But do we have the will and the wisdom? Is the Administration even aware of the potential here?
It may turn out to be most ironic that America can be brilliantly innovative in the battlefield, while dropping the diplomatic ball needed to rebuild a society with inborn values foreign to democracy, equality for women, and separation of church and state.
Continued war can not bring peace, diplomacy can.
Posted by RoadToPeace on Saturday, November 26, 2005.