Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Thomas Friedman: I'm fed up with Muslims

Well, not really.  But his recent Times column has some gems that we wouldn't see until after seeing pretty much every Middle East initiative and non-initiative turn into a disaster.

He starts out with a great quote:

“Let us review the various American policy options for the Middle East over the last few decades,” Hanson wrote. “Military assistance or punitive intervention without follow-up mostly failed. The verdict on far more costly nation-building is still out. Trying to help popular insurgents topple unpopular dictators does not guarantee anything better. Propping up dictators with military aid is both odious and counterproductive. Keeping clear of maniacal regimes leads to either nuclear acquisition or genocide — or 16 acres of rubble in Manhattan. What have we learned? Tribalism, oil, and Islamic fundamentalism are a bad mix that leaves Americans sick and tired of the Middle East — both when they get in it and when they try to stay out of it.”

So, basically, no matter whatever we try, things turn bad there. 

What ails the Middle East today truly is a toxic mix of tribalism, Shiite-Sunni sectarianism, fundamentalism and oil — oil that constantly tempts us to intervene or to prop up dictators.

Agreed - the people are NOT compatible with Western style democracy.  Oil is the problem?  I'd say oil is the only thing they have going for them.  Without oil, they'd be forced to abandon Islam as Saudi Arabia will turn into the desert it's supposed to be.

. The young Egyptians who drove the revolution are desperate for the educational tools and freedom to succeed in the modern world. Our response should have been to shift our aid money from military equipment to building science-and-technology high schools and community colleges across Egypt.

Now more gobbleygook.  Is he talking about the 90% of egyptians who believe that apostasy requires the death penalty?  With an average IQ of 83, good luck...what is Egypt going to do that China can't do twice as cheap and without the religious baggage? 

But I am fed up with supporting people just because they look less awful than the other guys and eventually turn out to be just as bad.

Where people don’t share our values, we should insulate ourselves by reducing our dependence on oil. But we must stop wanting good government more than they do, looking the other way at bad behavior, telling ourselves that next year will be different, sticking with a bad war for fear of being called wimps and selling more tanks to people who can’t read.

Here he gets a bit more realistic, and where I think a rationale policy can emerge even while in denial about Islam.  Isolate yourself through energy independence, don't try to remake societies, don't believe in pie in the sky optimism....

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