Saturday, November 21, 2015

The chaotic situation in Syria and the Islamic world

There are two useful sources of information about what's happened in Syria and the Islamic world to fuel the current 'refugee crisis' in Europe and the upsurge in ISIL terrorist activities in the West.

First, Strategy Page brings us a useful analysis of 'What Failure Has In Common'.

The six worst violence hotspots on the planet at the moment (Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia) seem hopeless and the search for solutions seems futile. But when you step back and take a closer look you find that all these countries have lots in common, aside from being “failed states.” All are largely Moslem and all have serious problems with governing themselves. This spotlights the fact that Moslems in general and Arabs in particular have developed a peculiar relationship with democracy in an attempt to cure these longstanding problems.

There's more at the link.  Useful information.  I'm not so sure that democracy is, at present, the best possible solution for many of these states.  I suggest that many of them need an Atatürk, a strong dictator to drag them kicking and screaming into modern times whether they want that or not, more than they do a one-person-one-vote scenario where the voters are neither educated nor informed.  However, the problem with an Atatürk solution is that for every enlightened 'dictator', one gets a dozen self-interested despots who'll rule for their own benefit and that of their cronies, rather than the nation as a whole.  How to get around that problem (apart from judicious assassination), I just don't know.  (Turkey is experiencing precisely that right now with the Erdoğan administration, which is Islamic to the core and, despite the obligatory lip-service to his memory, probably regards Atatürk as an unfortunate historical aberration to be corrected as quickly as possible.)

Next, this video report from Vox examines how the current situation in Syria came to be.  I generally don't trust Vox as an objective source, because the site's overtly left-wing, progressive perspective often colors its reporting, but in this case it seems reasonably balanced and accurate.  Judge for yourself.

Putting those two sources together, the background to the Paris attacks and the current tensions in the Islamic world become much clearer.



Bob said...

They can't rule themselves. The two solutions that seem to work in the case of muslim populations are the strongman solution, in which a despot rules with an iron fist, the despotism only as enlightened as the despot himself; or the White Man's Burden solution, colonialism, in which an enlightened country dominates a weaker country and attempts to civilize it. Your own South African homeland is an example of this, as is Zimbabwe and India; two of the three promptly descended to crime and chaos when the enlightened minority left, one (India) eventually prospered. Egypt is another example, the period under British colonialism was probably the most peaceful and tolerant of that country's history.

Anonymous said...

Great video!

Anonymous said...

1 Samuel 8:19-20 The people would not listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want to be like other nations. We want a king to rule us and lead us in battle.”

Despot or colonialism is both form of absolute rule. And for many culture, it probably is better for them as majority of the population do not have the capability to make informed decision. we can't apply first world solution to third world and expect successes.

SiGraybeard said...

for every enlightened 'dictator', one gets a dozen self-interested despots who'll rule for their own benefit and that of their cronies, rather than the nation as a whole. You mean like the US?

Anonymous said...

SiGraybeard, even if it were true that U.S. presidents are "self-interested despots who'll rule for their own benefit and that of their cronies", still the U.S. standard of living, quality of life, human rights, civil liberties etc. etc. are incomparably higher than in any Muslim country you care to mention, let alone the countries named above.

Chalk it up to separation of powers and the foresight of the Founders, if you want to, but the difference is real and lasting.

Islam's "business model" of intimidation and poll-tax extraction from infidels (essentially the Mafia writ large), on the other hand, cannot survive in the modern, hyperglobalized world, except by imposing itself by force everywhere. It's going to be a bloody 21st century to get them to abandon this dream and either completely transform themselves or abandon the political (jihad) and juridical (sharia) components of their religion entirely.

Anonymous said...

If only there were some historical precedent for how tribal societies develop into civil societies capable of sustaining democratic institutions. Wishing really hard doesn't seem to be working out very well. :-/