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War and Peace

If Humanity does not change,
it will destroy itself.

HG Wells

Now that Condoleeza Rice has declared an opportunity to remake the Middle East, and failed miserably, how we proceed remains even more vital. So far, this administration has been long with the strong arm and weak in the cerebrum -- an aftermath in true Neocon tradition of leaving chaos and anger where once there was the most modern of Arab nations. The strong arm will have to change because Islamic nations differ substantially from the European model.

A replication of the Marshall Plan for the Middle East is simply not possible, however attractive it may seem in theory. The "nations" of Islam have not collectively been destroyed by war as those in Europe have been. Neither did they ever develop an industrial infrastructure with a middle class to operate it. More important even, the Middle East has had no real experience with democracy while Europe had. Moreover, the Middle East is steeped in Islam, a monotheism that provides both religious needs and Islamic law for society governance; it has no tradition of secular governance, let alone democracy. Islamic governance has been the norm for some 14 centuries. In a very real sense, the "nations" of the Middle East are not nations at all if we use the European model as definitive. The lands of Islam are simply not nations in the Western mold. Our failure to adequately account for these features collectively have brought more woe to America than anyone envisioned.

The various branches of Islam fully expect to play strong and vital roles in governance of people's lives with Allah in command, so to speak. This is tradition, the only tradition that matters much in all of Islam.

Separation of Church and state is a concept to be feared, not welcomed. Without an effective separation, business will continue as usual in the Middle East. See Religion and Violence for more.

The Middle East largely fuels the world--with oil profits going to the sheiks or used for imports, not for infrastructure or social development. The Middle East is still more feudal and agrarian than modern. Islamic Middle-Eastern nations are anything but cohesive; they fight each other as much as they fight outsiders.

Mr. Bush said his war in Iraq will bring peace. We, as well as he, will wait an eternity for that to happen. Never in history has such a limited war brought peace. WW II was a model for a war that did bring a measure of peace, at least to Europe and the Pacific Rim. It was perhaps just the first Armageddon in humanity's march toward peace.

All these are barriers to the grand vision enunciated by Ms Rice. So is the phenomenon of terror itself. It is less nationalism than religious and secular extremism. All these challenges require tools not in a Marshall Plan. Such tools are also counter to the neoconservative view that America must and will rule the world.

A fresh view and tool kit are needed in Washington. Fortunately some tools are available. For a beginning, see: Hope | Pax Romana | Ethnic Conflict | Solutions

Wars and rumors of wars will continue until humanity learns to deal with the Authoritarian Personalities and the extremism they represent among us. To illustrate, by recent example, Yugoslavia came apart because Milosevic is a prime example of the authoritarian personality, a bigoted one at that. His Christian Serbs began attacking Muslim citizens in a genocidal manner, surely with his blessings. Although he died before having to account for his misdeeds as head of state before an international tribunal, bringing him to trial was an advance in civilized governance of historic proportions in our time.

For background on what we must deal with see:
Authoritarian Personality | Authoritarianism | Extremism | Fundamentalism | Economic Gap | Guardians | More Gap | Neoconservatism | Religions & Violence | Wahhabism | Witch Hunts


Creating a true market economy of private ownership is one step. Without a market economy, democratic governance usually fails. Middle class economic power usually has the leverage to moderate despotism. We see this feature operating in China today. No more "Great Leap Forward", no "cultural revolution" needed. "Leave it to the entrepreneurs" is a formula that is working amazingly well in the world's most populace nation. Those critical of China should spend a month or two there. To be sure, China has a way to go before peasants reach equality and the environment is clean. But overall, Chin's progress toward liberty is simply astonishing. Communism, as such is dead in China. Women are an important part of that.

Reformation of Islam from within also seems necessary in the Middle East and that will be enabled once corruption is replaced by a strong infrastructure and market economy supporting a middle class. Thanks to the likes of Irshad Manji, the Islamic diaspora seems to be moving slowly toward reformation. This will all take time.

Posted by RoadToPeace on Monday, June 16, 2008 at 11:07:19

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