Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Never Mind Who Lost Arabia

Before we start arguing about "who lost Arabia" let us  revisit the previous argument over "who lost China."

When Mao won the half-century civil war in China after the collapse of the Manchu dynasty, the reaction in the US elite was to argue about who allowed Mao to win.  As it happened, it didn't matter. Mao managed to make China into an economic midget with his crazed socialist plans.  He managed to wreck China on both socialist fantasies: first, that a political elite can manage the economy better than business people, and second, that political activists running around annoying people are anything other than a nuisance.  The first fantasy wrecked China in the Great Leap Forward and the second fantasy wrecked China in the Cultural Revolution.  Mao's great achievement was to utterly discredit the lefty menu and clear the decks for Deng Xiaoping to inaugurate a capitalist economy and an economic takeoff.

When we look at the "Arab Spring" and start arguing about whether Bush or Obama made it worse, we are missing the point.  The peoples of the Middle East have to figure out how to get out of the economic, political and cultural mess they are in.  Whatever they do it is obviously going to be uncomfortable for us in the West.  In Tunisia, the election Sunday produced a victory for the main Islamic party and for moderate parties that ran on accommodation with the Islamists.  Does that mean that Tunisia will now go on a rampage and try to eliminate Israel?  Maybe, but if it does the US has the power to help Israel stop it.

What about Egypt?  Well, the Muslim Brotherhood might win power and it might want to go on a jihad in the Middle East to restore the glory of Egypt.  And that means they might use Israel as a foil.  But if they do, the US has the power to stop it.

The fact is that almost every political regime that takes power after a revolution tends towards aggressive behavior.  The Brits won a global empire in the century after the Glorious Revolution.  The French invaded the rest of Europe after their Revolution.  And the US conquered a continent after the Revolutionary war.  We should expect the same from the Islamic revolutions and develop plans to contain any aggression that damages our interest.

There is one problem for the Islamic forces if they plan on conquest.  War needs money, and the way you get money in the modern era is to have a thriving modern economy.  That is something that is sadly lacking in most of the Islamic world, in particular in Egypt.

Let us look at Iran, which spent the ten years after its 1979 Revolution in a fruitless war with Iraq.  For all its meddling, what has it achieved?  Anyway, at 30 years after its revolution the revolutionary generation will be soon dying out.  Normally, the fiery revolutionaries get replaced by less impressive time servers.

The bigger threat from Islamism is the migration of the Islamic peoples into Europe where they are inheriting the rotting corpse of the welfare states.  Over the past half-century the native peoples of Europe have seemed too materialistic to suffer the costs of childbearing and childraising.  There is a cost to that.  It means that someone else will inherit the future.

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