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This is the building standard for the Middle East

Reader comment on item: White Elephant in Baghdad

Submitted by Ken Besig Israel (Israel), Mar 31, 2010 at 01:24

In the Middle East if one depends on Arab labor, one usually has to build the same building several times, this is the norm in Israel so I must assume this is the norm throughout the rest of the region. This is partly because the contractors themselves are corrupt and will deliberately sabotage their work in order to extend the length of their contracts and make even more money by doing the same job over and over again. It is partly due to the inexperience and lack of knowledge of the Arab worker who is more likely to be a relative of the contractor rather than a real experienced plumber or electrician, as well as the worker's own corruption in the sense that the more times he has to carry out the same task, the more times he will be paid. In many cases substandard or even incorrect building materials are deliberately supplied by a supplier who is surprise, surprise, a relative of the contractor, again in order to sabotage the work and perhaps receive payment several times before supplying the correct materials.

Dr. Pipes this is the Middle East where corruption is the rule, not the exception. This is the Middle East where duplicity and cruelty are the mark of the popular and effective leader.

Now with this in mind, let us take a quick and not too pretty look at the "elected Iraqi government" and it's flawed election, it's corrupt leadership, it's chances of staying in power following the American military withdrawal. First of all corruption is endemic in the Middle East, the leadership expects itself to be corrupt. Secondly, given the clan and tribal nature of all Arab societies, the people who are ruled by this leadership expect nepotism, corruption, and immorality to be the rule, indeed, this what they know, trust, and want. And finally, as you yourself point out Dr. Pipes, the people living in these brutally and exclusively patriarchal societies expect a tough, mean, self serving and immoral strong man to be in charge, or as you describe it, "a strong Iraqi leader." Thus the answer is quite simple, the stronger the leader, the better his chances of remaining in power following the American withdrawal.

This is the Middle East, not Harvard, not even Western Africa, and the standards of Western democracy and even building simply do not apply here, except for Israel, and then only most of the time!


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