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blind to structure

Reader comment on item: Obama Administration Middle East Policy: Amateur Hour

Submitted by myth (Germany), Apr 24, 2013 at 06:25

I agree, Western foreign policy in the Middle East overlooks change, overlooks common themes such as islamism. I see a pattern on a deeper level. The West is blind to structure. It sees incidents, reacts to a crisis, but never connects the dots across locations, people, and over time. Why is that?

My feeling is that at least after the Cold War the West "holds" a set of illusions as "self-evident". Like the following:

Given a free market, a society will prosper, all by itself. Give people a vote, a democratic society will grow, all by itself. Give police training, the rule of law will follow, all by itself. Pass a conflict to an international body large enough, a legitimate resolution will emerge, all by itself. Give people individual freedom, a free society will grow, all by itself. Whatever the problem, let it all develop freely, the solution will follow, all by itself.

But where is the structure to connect the starting point with the outcome? Structure explains and determines for a great part which direction events are unfolding. One structure does not fit all. We in the West have lots of different structures manifested in institutions of all sorts.

Islam in the Middle East provides a lot of that structure without much of an alternative here and now. Maybe Islam's unique role accounts for much of the trouble.


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