It seems to me…
“We could find that the Arab Spring turns into an Iranian winter.” – Benjamin Netanyahu.
The so-called “Arab Spring” represents both challenge and opportunity for Arab states to awaken from their long slide from one of the most advanced civilizations in the world down into stagnation and decay but will require discipline, hard work, knowledge, achievement, scientific inquiry, and pluralism. It will not be an easy transformation.
The Arab-Muslim people have an incredibly rich cultural tradition and civilization with long periods of success and innovation on which to draw for inspiration and examples for their youth. Unfortunately, a combination of cognitive dissonance and self-esteem, no prospect for meaningful employment or opportunity, and lack of freedom under authoritarian governments opened the door to ideological extremism. To prevent continued violence, civil unrest, extremism, and population increases concentrated in youth will require rapid improvements in food, housing, education, and employment. New governments have only a limited window of opportunity. Unless they are able to quickly demonstrate openness, democratic inclusion, and responsiveness, the citizens of these countries, now aware of their collective power, are likely to again take to the streets in continuing unrest.
Many Muslims still have an illusion of religious superiority. Most Arab-Muslims strongly believe their faith encompasses not only religion but also politics, economics, science… They have been raised to believe Islam is the most perfect and complete expression of God’s monotheistic message and the prophet Mohammed is God’s last and most perfect messenger. Internal conflict leading to ideological extremism arises from the observation that if this is so, why do others in this world have so much more freedom and are able to enjoy better lives given that the Arab world once was the most advanced in both science and the arts?
These countries must be the author of their own destiny. Only resentment would result if we intervene and attempt to do it for them. Applying the lessons of the Arab spring for true opportunity will require support, encouragement, and patience on our part.
Not everything will turn out the way we want but they deserve the freedom to select their own destiny, not necessarily the way we see it. Yes, mistakes will be made and the wrong path selected. But if not hurried, there always is time for them to start over. We must remember that even our country did not succeed on its first try (how many people remember the Congress of the Confederation or that the United States in Congress Assembled was our governing body from 1 March 1781 to 4 March 1789.)
Will countries such as Iran hope to exploit ongoing internal turmoil in the Arab world, of course they will. We hope to; should we expect anything less of any other country? That is the way this game is played. There never is an even playing field but in this case, while the United States is not held in high esteem throughout the Arab world, neither is Iran.
While some of the Gulf States have petroleum resources useful in rebuilding their countries, this access to wealth frequently has been more of a detriment than an advantage to advancement. There is a strong correlation between a country’s economic dependence on petroleum or mineral exports – the so-called “resource curse” – and to the extent of that nation’s stagnation and repression. Decreased petroleum dependency, while highly desirable from an environmental perspective, probably also represents the most likely method of achieving regime change in nations reliant upon natural resource exports though energy poverty has continued to divide the world into energy haves and have-not’s.
Some countries, like people, have more memories than dreams and must develop a belief in the future, not the past. Countries, like organization, eventually reach a point where it is necessary to abandon what made them great and start over. Imagination is far more important than whatever was done in the past. One is history, the other an as yet unwritten book.
That’s what I think, what about you?