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On the other hand..

Reader comment on item: The Roots of Iraq's Rebellion

Submitted by Scott (United States), Apr 13, 2004 at 15:13

Daniel:

On the other hand, what you're saying is that imperialism didn't work, which would tend to include the establishment of benevolent autocracies of various kinds. And maintenance of an autocracy in Iraq does very little to modulate the dynamic that pits Islamism against the autocracies, whith us and Israel in the middle. In short, it doesn't solve the larger problem, or even do much to alleviate it. Any autocracy will have to make the same devil's bargain that the present 'ancient regimes' must make, promoting anti-Americanism (and anti-Semitism) in order to divert attention from the lack of personal freedom.

Iraqis scoff at western ideas about installing a Hashemite, and duplicating the sort of optimal authoritarianism that exists in Jordan (and that did not work previously under Faisal). And Jordan is also the home of Zarqawi, so at best such an approach is merely a delay strategy.

Perhaps full-blown democracy is too ambitious, but I think we need something that at least foresees and sets the conditions for a democratic state in the Arab Middle East. Something between the Hashemite autocracy of Jordan, and the periodic competition of elites that minimizes the distance between "haves" and "have nots," and thereby lowers the stakes of the authoritarian dynamic.

I fear that absent such a solution we'll eventually fight a much more devastating war in the Middle East.

Besides, I'd say that European thought has made significant inroads into traditional Islamic beliefs already. It just happens that the ideas incorporated were those of the Counter-enlightenment and therefore caused the problem to go from bad to worse. Perhaps that's the real battle, not against Islam but against the unholy "marriage " between Islam and Hegel (Robespierre).
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