Voice from the Commonwealth
Commentary, World Views and Occasional Rants from a small 'l' libertarian in Massachussetts

"If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest for freedom, go home and leave us in peace. We seek not your council nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." - Samuel Adams

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

An interesting article by a former high ranking Jordainian official that takes an introspective look at the situation within the Arab world and what the war in Iraq indicates.

In short, Arab efforts at state building in the past 50 years, and since independence, have failed, or at best have hit a snag. Here are some indicators:

1) The absence of all forms of political participation; 2)The absence of the rule of law in some countries, and the selectivity in applying it in others; 3) Substituting form for content in institution building; 4) The absence of critical thinking from education; 5) If the concept of citizenship sparsely exists in Arab constitutions, it does not at all in practice and application.

Failure in modern Arab state-building also extended to the unattained big dream of Arab unity. Arab politics became stuck between these two failures. Some Arab countries found non-Arab allies to protect them, while others remained mired in this situation and sought to achieve some tactical gains that proved in recent years to be more of a burden than an asset. As a result, the Arab world became ripe for foreign interference and conquest, in the name of security cooperation or fighting terrorism. The Arab environment became fertile for the growth of extremism, despite material and infrastructural achievements by some countries.

In this context, coalition forces launched a war on Iraq that lasted three weeks. The war ended with the total collapse of the state and its institutions, and the total disappearance of the Republican Guard; what had been the regime’s strongest and most loyal force melted away, leaving behind not even one of its formations to sign the surrender treaty that usually signals the end of war.

What else should we have expected from a paternalistic and autocratic regime that plotted against its own people, and built its security and defense policies on the understanding that national security only means security of the regime, an interpretation that allows it to protect itself from its own sons and stay in power forever?

But isn’t plotting against one’s own people the prevalent mode for most regimes in the Arab world? Should we deduce consequently that what happened in Iraq could, given the same circumstances, happen in other Arab countries? I do not know the answer. I see, though, that the general Arab condition remains as it was before the war, except for a handful of new signs.

I look forward to Part II tomorrow.

< email | 5/27/2003 01:13:00 PM | link

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