Friday, September 26, 2008

Hope and Change

Part of the reason we have spent blood and treasure in Iraq is the hope that we can change the dysfunctional Arab Moslem society that has provided fertile ground for Islamo-fascist terrorism, with both an ideology justifying terror and a pool of young men eager to kill us to cure their problems. Rule of law and democracy, we hope, will prevent a new generation of jihadis from arising after we defeat the current wave.

If we don't change the ground rules, another round of jihad will come as they have come before our generation. But the next wave might have even deadlier weapons available for the jihadis to use against us. This may be our last chance to prevent the loss of a city in a nuclear fireball or the deaths of millions from biological weapons.

The problem is clear enough and rests on the poor educational levels of the Islamic world:

The education shortage results in less wealth. GDP of all Islamic countries is a fifth of the European Union and the United States (which contain half as many people.) Unemployment rates are much higher in Islamic countries, and most are ruled by dictators or monarchs. Without science, education and democracy, you find that science and economic progress cannot flourish. ...

The poor economic performance, and tendency not to allow women to be educated, leads to many young, ignorant, unemployed men. These are prime prospects for Islamic radical groups. The pitch is that it is all fault of someone else, and that if we kill enough of the right people (local tyrants, and their foreign allies), than all will be right again. It won't, it hasn't, but it works great for recruiting.

Many so-called progressives (and many on the isolationist Right) insist that democracy and freedom are beyond the capacity of Arabs to implement. It can seem this is so based on headlines. But democracy was not achieved overnight in the West. It took centuries to evolve. It had best not take centuries for the Islamic world to achieve workable democracy, but Moslems are not incapable of living in a democratic society. Moslems do this everyday here in America.

And there is hope that education can do the same job in the Arab Moslem world:

It's only recently become fashionable among Moslems to attribute this to internal conditions. The Arab Reform Movement tries, with limited success, to overcome this "blame the outsider" attitude. Even the Saudi royal family is behind the Arab Reform Movement, and the need for the Islamic world to invest more in education and economic freedom. But thousand year old habits are difficult to erase quickly. This is why Westerners can speak with educated Moslems and come away thinking that friendly relations between the Western and Islamic world are more likely than not. But among the vast majority of poorly educated, and often illiterate, Moslems, the West is feared and hated. Moslem tyrants play on this, as they have for centuries, to blame the misery the tyrants have created on infidel (non-Moslem) foreigners.

It may be discouraging that the Moslem "street" is backward and hostile, but the relatively enlightened views of the educated Moslems provide me with hope that a wider transformation is possible. Remember, they don't have to love us--just find it unthinkable to slaughter us because of our differences. Is that change really too much to ask of them?