Best Remedy for Middle East Is Pluralism, Applied from Within

(New York Times) Thomas L. Friedman - Every day the headlines from the Arab world get worse. Some say it's because of the "power vacuum" - the U.S. has absented itself from the region. But there is also a huge "values vacuum." For the Arab awakening to have any future, the ideology that is most needed now is the one being promoted least: pluralism. Until that changes, argues Marwan Muasher, in his new book The Second Arab Awakening and the Battle for Pluralism, none of the Arab uprisings will succeed. Muasher is a former Jordanian foreign minister and now a vice president at the Carnegie Endowment. Ultimately, argues Muasher, this is the Arabs' fight for their political future. If 500,000 U.S. troops and $1 trillion could not implant lasting pluralism in Iraq, no outsider can. The corrupt secular autocrats are locked in a struggle with the Islamists, who also have no clue how to deliver jobs, services, security and economic growth. "As long as we're in this zero-sum game, the sum will be zero," Muasher says. No sustainable progress will be possible, Muasher argues, without the ethic of pluralism permeating all aspects of Arab society. "Experience proves that societies cannot keep renewing themselves and thereby thrive except through diversity."

2014-01-08 00:00:00

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