French Secularism Dies in the Middle East

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    Aug 01, 2011 4:35 PM GMT
    In most of our lifetimes I think we will shift away from an oil based economy... and none too soon. (Worth reading the whole thing):

    The Turks are wrestling with the difficult consequences of success; the Arabs are wrestling with the problems of failure. In Turkey first the Kemalists and then the AK came up with programs leading to greater prosperity and national prestige. In the Arab world the secularists have failed and it is all too likely that Islamists also have no recipe for success.

    In Syria even more than in Iraq, the Ba’athist version of Arab history and Arab progress has become unsustainable. The regime has no legitimacy — but it is not clear that a viable alternative exists. A period of religious and ethnic conflict in Syria comparable to events in Lebanon and Iraq cannot be excluded.

    In Egypt too we see a revolution resulting from failure rather than a revolution grounded in a viable vision for the future. Fortunately Egypt’s centuries of relative stability and strong sense of identity protect it from the worst kinds of chaos and civil war that assail weaker and less firmly founded countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya and Lebanon. Egypt is neither a developing country in the sense that it is gaining on the advanced world or a failed state; it is stuck in the gray zone in between.

    In Turkey, a sometimes feisty and over the top Kemalist regime has given way to a sometimes feisty and over the top group of Islamists; in the Arab world a gaggle of failed secularist modernizers is being driven from power by waves of public resentment and frustration.

    Either way, the century in which French secularism was the dominant ideological force in the Middle East has now clearly come to an end. From Pakistan to Morocco the Muslim world has turned its back on the modernity of the 20th century.

    God only knows what comes next.
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    Aug 01, 2011 10:13 PM GMT