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

Sulaiman al-Hattlan has been writing some excellent articles recently. Here he reflects on the changes that must come to remedy the failures of the Middle East.

Many fellow Arabs and other international friends expected me to rally against the war. I was ambivalent about the war because I have known since my days as a young reporter who frequently visited Baghdad in the late 1980s that even Saddam Hussein’s death would not have liberated Iraqis from his tyranny.

Politics in Iraq, as elsewhere in the Arab world, is a family business. Qualifications are irrelevant. Blood relationships reign supreme.

Ironically, while millions of Iraqis at home and in exile celebrate their freedom, the broader Arab world is crying for the “dignity” of Iraqis under the “US occupation” ­ as if it weren’t shameful enough that they had ignored the daily humiliation of Iraqis during 30 years of Saddam Hussein’s brutal occupation.

On the eve of this war, my friend on the other side of the Atlantic was very angry.

“The dignity of Iraqis is slaughtered live on the screen,” he said. I should have asked: “What about the ‘dignity’ of Iraqis during the past 30 years under Mr. Hussein’s brutality? What about the ‘dignity’ of more than 3 million Iraqis in exile? What about the ‘dignity’ of millions of Iraqi soldiers who have been killed and maimed by Mr. Hussein’s wars?”

Today, the good news is that Saddam Hussein is gone. Still, that is just the beginning. Young educated Arabs must fight for their right to participate in reforming their countries. The monopoly of family politics in the Arab world must end.

To survive, we must encourage self-criticism, rewrite our educational system and open doors for genuine debates about the critical issues that our societies have long avoided.

Unless we begin an authentic dialogue about what really went wrong in our political and social experience during the past century or so, the other Saddams in our societies ­ corrupt political and educational systems ­ will continue to produce disastrous results.

< email | 5/27/2003 12:47:00 PM | link

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