April 26, 2004


Mideast instability? Bring it on (Mark Steyn, 4/26/04, Jewish World Review)

In the summer of 2002, Amr Moussa, secretary-general of the Arab League, issued a stern warning to the BBC: a US invasion of Iraq would "threaten the whole stability of the Middle East." As I wrote at the time, "He's missing the point: that's the reason it's such a great idea." [...]

Ariel Sharon has decided that one cannot negotiate with a void, a nullity — and even sentimental European Yasserphiles might, in their more honest moments, acknowledge that the only way the Palestinians are ever going to get a state is if they're cut out of the process. So the Israelis are building their wall, and what's left over on the other side will either be a new state, the present decayed Arafatist squat, or an ever more frustrated self-detonation academy. But it will be up to the Palestinians to choose because they'll be the ones living with the consequences.

BUSH HAS gone along with Sharon because it accords with his post-9/11 assessment of the Middle East: The biggest gamble can't be worse than Moussa's stability. Indeed, the Israeli government's new Hamas Assassination-of-the-Month program usefully clarifies the bottom line: A high rotation of thugs is better than the same thug decade in, decade out. Poor Rantissi, killed this weekend, seems unlikely to get the glowing send-off from European obituarists they gave to his predecessor, the "revered quadriplegic spiritual leader," Sheikh Yassin. Already, bigshot terrorists in Gaza are said to be reconsidering their applications for next month's vacancy.

That's the bottom line elsewhere, too. If all else fails, then a modified Sam Goldwyn philosophy will do: I'm sick of the old despots, bring me some new despots.

But it won't come to that. In Iraq, Libya, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere, the old Middle East is dying, and what replaces it can only be better.

Folk seem to have forgotten the level of instability and the volume of slaughter that was required as the West reformed from totalitarianism (pretty much from Germany all the way East) to the Bering Sea. Thus far the reform of Islam has been comparatively easy, quick, cheap, and bloodless.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 26, 2004 9:50 AM

In the wording here, it is not the reform of Islam to be concerned with, but the reform of the Arab world. Politically, no matter how much the West wants it to be so, they are not the same thing. Ask any imam. Governments can probably be reformed now, with difficulty. Islam will not be 'reformed' until the fanatic screamers are removed just for opening their mouths.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 26, 2004 11:17 AM

To the contrary, Islam itself needs to be reformed to allow for separation of the religion from economics and day to day governance. Once that's done government follows. Judeo-Christianity created liberal democratic capitalism, not vice versa.

Posted by: oj at April 26, 2004 11:26 AM

Of course, this seems illogical for the former FLN propaganda specialist in Djakarta; Lakshar
Brahimi, who has empowered the Sunni Sheiks,the
the Pashtuns, the Alawites, and the Taliban; over the Maronites, the Shia, the Kurds, & the Uzbek Hazaras in every negotiation.

Posted by: narciso at April 26, 2004 12:48 PM

I haven't detected any reform in Islam.

It took a combination of secularism, wresting civil power away from religion to get to democratic capitalism.

We could argue about it all day long, but in my view it was separating religion from civil power that was the key ingredient.

In one sense, religion has been separated from civil power in much of Islam; but in another, only on sufferance; and it's not easy to see how you make that big step toward a free, civil society that the west made.

It seems just as likely to me that the step will be to an unfree society with religion in the saddle again.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 27, 2004 12:58 AM


You can't notice or your ideology goes out the window.

Posted by: oj at April 27, 2004 7:39 AM
« WHAT WAR?: | Main | 50-0 FILES: »