Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Interesting Perspective

This sounds like a reasonable explanation for why we are running in reverse and why the First Renter can't seem to buy a clue.
Addicted to Oil - New York Times: "The mosque became an alternative power center because it was the only place the government's iron fist could not fully penetrate. As such, it became a place where people were able to associate freely, incubate local leaders and generate a shared opposition ideology.

That is why the minute any of these Arab countries hold free and fair elections, the Islamists burst ahead. In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood won 20 percent of the seats; Hamas went from nowhere to a governing majority. In both societies the ruling secular parties — the N.D.P. in the case of Egypt and Fatah in the case of Palestine — were spurned as corrupt appendages of the authoritarian state, which they were.

Why are there not more independent, secular, progressive opposition parties running in these places? Because the Arab leaders won't allow them to sprout. They prefer that the only choice their people have is between the state parties and religious extremists, so as to always make the authoritarian state look indispensable. When Ayman Nour, a liberal independent in Egypt, ran against President Hosni Mubarak, he was thrown in prison as soon as the election was over. Thanks for playing 'Democracy' — now go to jail.

It is not this way everywhere. In East Asia, when the military regimes in countries like Taiwan and South Korea broke up, these countries quickly moved toward civilian democracies. Why? Because they had vibrant free markets, with independent economic centers of power, and no oil. Whoever ruled had to nurture a society that would empower its men and women to get educated and start companies to compete globally, because that was the only way they could thrive.

In the Arab-Muslim world, however, the mullah dictators in Iran and the secular dictators elsewhere have been able to sustain themselves in power much longer, without ever empowering their people, without ever allowing progressive parties to emerge, because they had oil or its equivalent — massive foreign aid."
We'll take Iraq for 5000 troops and 10 million civilian casualties, no problem. They want us to help them, they will be waiting with flowers and open arms.
If you just remove the dictators, and don't also bring down the price of oil, you end up with Iran — with mullah dictators replacing military dictators and using the same oil wealth to keep their people quiet and themselves in power. Only when oil is back down to $20 a barrel will the transition from Saddam to Jefferson not get stuck in "Khomeini Land."
$20 a barrel for oil? Friedman, did somebody put something in your coffee? You were doing okay there for a while. Why is everybody using the word "addicted" all of a sudden?

Is the truth about the "kool-aid" about to break? :-)

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