Behind The Arabs' Failure
An interesting short piece and roundup by Amir Taheri in the NY Post. I'd probably prefer to have different or other "success" criteria. The main point of course is Arabs better go with what "works". (Getting to what "works" seems much harder in the Lebanon-Syria-Palestinian arena).
June 26, 2006 -- WHAT should Arabs do to meet the challenges they face in a world not made by, or for, them? Debated in Arab countries since the middle of the 19th century, the question has been posed with even greater urgency since the 9/11 tragedy persuaded many in the West to regard all Arabs as enemies. Remarkably, the answers given today are more or less the same as those of 150 years ago..
One answer, long the one most popular with the elites, is that Arabs should Westernize as fast as they can. Abdul-Rahman al-Kawakibi, the father of modern reformism in the Arab world, saw traditional political, cultural and social structures as the principal cause of what he branded as "the historic decline of our nation."
A second answer was that the best hope of Arabs, indeed of all Muslims, lay in finding a benevolent despot who, rather than spend time enriching himself, would lead them into creating a modern society.
The third answer is that the secret of Arabs' "decline" lies in the fact that they have distanced themselves from Islam. The magic formula, therefore, was simple: Return to Islam, which in practice means imposing the shariah, and all will be well in no time.
All three views share one problem - the assumption that there is an ideal form of government that can be adopted by any society at any given time. The real question, however, is not whether this or that Arab system is good or bad, compared to any real or imaginary model, but whether or not it performs its proper functions.
In other words, what is lacking was a pragmatic approach. Before asking whether something was good or bad, right or wrong, modern or traditional, we have to ask whether it works
THE REST IS HERE (New York Post)