The Tragic Failure of the Arab World

(Ha'aretz) Shimon Shamir - The 21st century is becoming increasingly characterized by Arab states coming apart at the seams or even completely crumbling, while jihadists are gaining footholds throughout Arab lands. To compete with more developed nations, Arabs needed to address four challenges: 1.To create sovereign states with functioning national institutions that depend upon cooperative citizens. 2. To develop the capacity to produce technology, which would secure them a competitive position in the world economy. 3. To handle Islam in a way that would instill values to bring society together - like common identity and solidarity - but also neutralize the violent elements that look to restore the ways of the past. 4. To shake off the neocolonialist influence and involvement of superpowers, and act independently in the international arena. In the West, the thinking tends to be that the toppling of an authoritarian regime might lead to the establishment of a democracy. However, bitter experience has shown that overthrowing the rulers prompts the whole system to collapse, and then the alternative is chaos. It turned out that while it's possible to topple a dictator, the proper foundations for fostering democracy in the aftermath - both conceptually and institutionally - were lacking. The dizzying growth of the global economy is based primarily on knowledge. In most Arab countries, the level of scientific and technological know-how does not meet the levels required to support advanced, innovative means of production. Knowledge in the Arab world is not up to par because their schools and universities place too great an emphasis on memorization and rote learning. In 2000, Islamist groups were small, underground factions with limited capabilities; by 2015, they had become large forces with military capabilities and cutting-edge weaponry, and were firmly established throughout Arab lands. The last 15 years have seen a series of mega-terrorist attacks throughout the world. During the last five years alone, there has been a stark increase in the number of casualties from Islamic terrorism. The writer is a professor emeritus of Middle Eastern history and former Israeli ambassador to Egypt and Jordan.

2016-01-05 00:00:00

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