The Path To Nowhere
The underpinning of every society is imitation and conformity. We agree to established and accepted values and conventions, and we live our lives according to those values and conventions. What we teach our children serves to ensure not only to establish their successes, but also to to ensure the continuity of our society and culture. Even the much progressive and non conformist ‘art world’ is really about imitation and conformity. For every Monet and Picasso there are a thousand imitators, each proudly proclaiming to be a pillar of whatever the ‘new school’ of that time might be.
There are ‘variations on theme.’ Each culture and society teach their own history and the cultural influence that are unique to them. It is also notable that cultures and societies that are distinguished by enshrined democratic principles, have learned to coexist with each other and to eschew violence, no matter the disagreement.
Those societies and cultures have learned for most part, if left alone to pursue his own dreams rather than the dreams of orthodox ideologues, man and society will do just fine. As we have noted many times, free and democratic nations do not make war upon each other, because in the end, citizens of free and democratic nations have more in common than the issues that divide them. There aren't many calls from the most determined European leftists to mobilize and take up arms against ‘les maudits’ Amercaines.‘
It is also very true that are accepted values and conventions in most western and many Asian societies and cultures (including Asian Muslim nations), are clearly not accepted by many, if not most, Arab world societies and cultures.
The cultures and values of a nation or society are determined by the leadership of that nation or society. As we have noted, the Arab world has been the incubator for much dysfunction. Islam birthed a radicalized version of itself and became contaminated with radicalization because values of dysfunctional leaders were forced on the religion. That radicalization was nurtured because it became clear as the 20th century drew to a close that the ummah in the Arab world and elsewhere, would not tolerate their marginalization from the rest of the world. They too, were entitled to a part of the future.
Dysfunctional leaders, suddenly embraced a religion they had rejected for years and proceeded to reshape that religion into something that would legitimize their own dysfunction and evil ideologies. Aided by ‘religious leaders’ who were in fact no more than paid state employees, Islam began a transformation. The ‘radical Islam’ we see today is not a ‘religious renaissance.’ The violence and anger we see on our TV screens is not an expression of Islam. What we see is a carefully crafted reworking and redefinition of Islam, brought about by evil and dysfunctional leaders that have made those distortions a part of Arab culture.
Whereas Islam was once regarded a numbing ‘opiate’ in the Arab world, the regions dysfunctional leaders have created a cancer, radical Islam. That cancer was designed to poison not only their own societies but to ensure that the west would isolate themselves from the Arab world- and thus, western values of freedom and democracy would be kept at bay. The result would be Arab world leaders unafraid of western intervention and guarantee an unimpeded iron grip.
In a recent post, This Says It All, Dr Sanity quotes Victor Davis Hanson:
Nothing was more evident of the moral impoverishment of the Palestinians than their collective lamentation over the fate of this mass killer of the Kurds and Arabs. We gave the Palestinian Authority hundreds of millions of dollars for housing, schools, and security and they hate us; Saddam gave them a few thousand dollars as bounty for suicide murderers and they loved him.
In the Arab world, support for the Palestinians is really a symptom- and artificial one at that, designed to focus attention away from the dysfunctional political and religious leaders (bought and paid for) that really ails Arab society.
Every student or practitioner of any of the psychological disciplines will tell you that pathologies- especially obsessions, if left unchecked, will spread.
In the dysfunctional Arab world, there is an is the absolute belief that the conflict with Israel and western ideals is what drives their pathology, and not the other way around. In the real world, it is pathology that drives conflict. In essence, the Arab world is trying to explain it’s behavior in the court of world opinion by saying, ‘Your honor, the conflict started when the Israelis and world democracies resisted and hit back after we announced our intention to destroy them and then attacked and hit them.‘
Of course, the conflict with Israel and the west has nothing to do with Arab world behaviors. Even if Israel and the American presence in the region were gone tomorrow, there would not be much difference in the region.
Neither America or Israel had anything to do with Saddam’s record of evil against other Muslims. Iraqis didn’t use their weapons of mass destruction against hated Jews or westerners. Those WMD’s were developed because of choices made by Saddam. He developed and used those WMD’s against fellow Muslims during the Iran-Iraq War, and delighted withe the results, used them again against fellow Iraqis. The poison-gas attack against Kurds in Halabja in 1988. The Kurds did not have WMD’s at their disposal and they were no military threat to Saddam.
The UN generated Duelfer Report made clear the nature and reason for theIraqi nuclear program. The reports authors concluded that “Iran was the pre-eminent motivator of this policy. All senior-level Iraqi officials considered Iran to be Iraq’s principal enemy in the region. The wish to balance Israel and acquire status and influence in the Arab world were also considerations, but secondary.”
Neither America or Israel are responsible for the economic malaise in countries blessed with obscene wealth.
Muammar Qaddafi is not a creation of America or Israel, any more than are the corrupt mullahs of Iran.
Neither America or Israel are responsible for the pitiful state of Arab world educational levels, among the lowest in the world.
Corrupt judiciaries, limitations on free speech and expression and religious bigotry are not the result of Americans or Israelis.
Does anyone really believe that if Israel did not exist (and consequently, no American alliance with the region’s only real democracy) that there would be a Pan Muslim state that stretched from North Africa to Syria and Pakistan and on to Indonesia? Would the Arab world be a far more advanced culture and society?
Does anyone believe that had the Arab armies been successful in the 1967 war ( a declared war of annihilation) they started, that Egypt, Jordan and Syria would have ceded the land to establish a new ‘Palestine’? (in fact, the only thing that united those three nations was a hatred (and fear, to some extent) of Arafat. While they were not afraid of him from a military standpoint, they were afraid of his influence in the region- and influence that might undermine heir own.
Had the Arab nations defeated Israel in 1967, the Palestinians would still be living in third world conditions. If the desire for Palestinian statehood were a real aspiration, does anyone believe that legions of suicide bombers today would be dispatched to Cairo, Damascus and Amman? Or is that phenomena acceptable because terror directed against non Muslims is acceptable (recall the horror of the wedding bombing in Amman and the resulting shock and revulsion).
Of course, waiting in the wings is the Arab world’s ‘deal with the devil.’ The dysfunctional leaders of the Arab world are making a tempting offer to the west; offer up Israel as a sacrifice to us and the specter of terror will disappear. And just who is making those promises? Some of the most dysfunctional- and evil leaders, in the history of mankind. Given the treatment of citizens and minorities in these dysfunctional regimes, it becomes clear that promises made by the leaders of these regimes are along the lines of Nazi Germany’s non aggression treaties and agreements with Chamberlain and Molotov.
Arab hatred of Jews and Israel is in no small measure due to the real and tangible success of Zionism (see this and Birth Of Nation, A Garden Blooms) That ideology has been far more successful than Pan Arabism or Baathism. That truth is not lost on the Arab world. Their own failures are magnified by Israel’s real and undeniable successes, as seen in the mirror of their own failures, every day.
When it's all said and done, the most volatile regional issues are religious in nature because the dysfunctional leaders of these dysfunctional states have made it that way.
The most horrible of crimes in Algeria, including the rape and dismemberment of children, were the result of purported religious dedication.
The civil war in Lebanon ended after 14 years of bloodshed, with no real resolution between the Christian and Muslim communities there.
Egyptian discrimination against the Copts went from a generations long simmer to a violent boil in the 1990’s and continues on today.
Saddam made no secret of his hate in his excesses against the Shia and Kurds, resulting in over a million deaths.
Former Syrian president Hafez Assad had 20,000-30,000 people (mostly members of the Muslim Brotherhood) slaughtered in Hama and many other, lesser known massacres.
In Saudi Arabia, the royal family wahhabists have unleashed a kind of perverted fundamentalism in their own country and they have paid to sponsor more of the same around the world.
A British schoolteacher was sentenced to 15 days imprisonment because she allowed a teddy bear to be called 'Mohammed.' Religious figures in Sudan calling for death and Sudanese courts 'generously' spared the 55 year old from 40 lashes.
All the while and below most western radar, a bitter struggle is playing out- the fundamentalist Muslims vs the moderate and/or more secular Muslims. There are also the real class struggle issues and tensions between millions of poor and disenfranchised Muslims versus the Arab world elite and privileged.
None of these realities have anything to do with Israel, Jews, America, or Christians.
It is only the deliberate and artificial focus on Israel and the Palestinians as a pretext for Arab dysfunction that keeps the Arab world from falling into a countdown of self destruction. Without those magnified, out of proportion artificial distractions designed to whip Arab frustrations into a frenzy, repelete with calls to slaughter, the Arab world would implode upon itself.
Of course, Israel is not a regional observer only. The continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and the hardships endured by the Palestinians as a result of the occupation are a tragic, if necessary reality until real peace emerges. The Israeli psyche and soul have been severely tested. Nevertheless, as long as the Arab world undermines and sabotages real peace efforts with hate, bigotry, threats of annihilation and terror, the status quo will remain.
The Arabs are a proud people, with many kind and generous virtues. Anyone who has experienced Arab hospitality knows just how true that is. In quiet and small of the night, they know who their real oppressors are. They also know that Islamic ‘reform’ efforts are really restoration efforts. The Arab world needs to institute political reform before there can be religious restoration to the Islam that preceded the Islam crafted by dysfunctional Arab tyrants.
They know these things of course. They must now choose the values and conventions they will adopt and imitate. They can choose the road to nowhere, as laid out for them by their tyrants and despots that lead the nations in which they live.
As the wall that divided Europe collapsed, there was never really a question as to the values and conventions the people would choose. Time and time again, we have witnessed the truth that when given a chance, people will choose freedom over tyranny.
It is true that the opportunity for the liberation from tyranny and immediate freedom in the Arab world does not yet exist at the moment. Nevertheless, that does not preclude the Arab world from choosing the values and conventions they will adopt as their own. We can only hope they choose a seat at the table of free and civilized nations.
Portions of this post have been previously published.