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Arab Reaction to Iraq
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I haven't quoted a Tom Friedman article for a while, and today's is pretty good, so here you go:

Shortly after the 25-member Governing Council was appointed in Iraq, the head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, questioned the U.S.-appointed Council's legitimacy. "If this Council was elected," complained Mr. Moussa, "it would have gained much power and credibility."

I love that quote. I love it, first of all, for its bold, gutsy, shameless, world-class hypocrisy. Mr. Moussa presides over an Arab League in which not one of the 22 member states has a leader elected in a free and fair election.

Following up on our discussions of moral relativity, it's not PC to say that the Arab world is a hodge-podge of dysfunction...but it's true.

What has been the Arab reaction to Iraq?

The short answer is: Shock, denial, fear and some stirrings of change.


The denial is closely related to the fears. Many Arab leaders and intellectuals seem to be torn between two fears about Iraq: fear that the U.S. will succeed in transforming Iraq into a constitutional, democratizing society, which would put pressure on every other Arab regime to change, and fear that the U.S. will fail and Iraq will collapse into ethnic violence that will suck in all the neighbors and look like Lebanon's civil war on steroids.

Here I'd disagree with Friedman. I don't think there's a fear that we'll fail in stabilizing and democratizing Iraq. I think most of the Arab regimes in the region (note: not necessarily most of the people) want us to fail. There are even a few in the West who want us to fail, though this is rarely stated openly. Because that, by extension, might actually justify the action. It would show that self-governance and freedom are not exclusively Western commodities (as if robust democracies in Asia and South America hadn't already demonstrated this amply). It might actually have the capacity to transform the Middle East from a collective of rich, corrupt autocracies into something resembling free, modern civilization.

On Saudi Arabia:

While Saudi Arabia is introducing more reforms at home than generally thought, too often it is one step forward, one step back. Just the other day another moderate Saudi columnist, Hussein Shobokshi, was sacked under government pressure. According to The A.P., Mr. Shobokshi had recently written a column imagining a Saudi Arabia where his daughter could drive and he could vote.

What a fool, right? Somebody ought to tell Mr. Shobokshi that those are Western values, not to be imposed on sacred Saudi society. Oh wait...somebody already did tell him.

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