Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Economist On Arab Nations

The Economist had a story today with some phrases that would  be labeled as racist if it came from any of us bloggers:

"The problem of Arab governance is by no means confined to those big two. In the past few centuries the Arabs, once pre-eminent in a host of skills, from astronomy and algebra to architecture and engineering, have seen their societies stagnate and fester. Though blessed with natural resources, especially the oil that has enriched Arab dynasties and their subservient elites while often leaving the masses in penury, few Arab countries have seen their non-oil economies flourish or their people enjoy the public services or freedoms taken for granted elsewhere.
"Of the Arab League’s 22 members, not a single one is a stable and fully fledged democracy. Fragile but sophisticated Lebanon may come nearest, despite its lethal rivalries between sect and clan and failure to get a single national army to control all its territory (see article). Post-Saddam Iraq has had genuine multiparty elections but is mired in corruption, violence and sectarian strife. The Palestinians had a fair election in 2006 but the winners, the Islamists of Hamas, were not allowed to govern. A handful of other countries, such as Morocco and Kuwait, have multiparty systems, but monarchs still rule the roost. And where they have given way to republicans, new dynasties, such as Syria’s today and Libya’s probably tomorrow, still hold sway. Even sub-Saharan Africa has a better record of electoral freedom....
Elections, though vital in the end, are not an early panacea. What the Arabs need most, in a hurry, is the rule of law, independent courts, freeish media, women’s and workers’ rights, a market that is not confined to the ruler’s friends, and a professional civil service and education system that are not in hock to the government, whether under a king or a republic. In other words, they need to nurture civil society and robust institutions. The first task of a new Saudi king should be to enact a proper criminal code.

"In the Arab lexicon, the concept of justice means more than democracy. In the end, you cannot have the first without the second. But the systems that now prevail in the Arab world provide for neither."
 I don't get it. The Huffington Posters are always the ones telling us that Israel is the one needs to respect "the rule of law" and that Israel is not a democracy. Just goes to show how the HP is in many ways it's own little world without any kind of realistic connection to the outside.


  1. Yes the Arab countries 'need' stability the same way all those people on the Titanic 'needed' to not hit an iceberg and sink. It's about as probable too.

  2. The Arab countries do need to transition carefully to democracy. The few Arab liberals realize if it was rapidly achieved the Islamists would take over and then democracy would be extinguished for good. You need not only the procedure of democracy but the cultural substance that all makes it work. That's not going to happen in the Arab World for a very long time.

  3. Have the Brothers of Judea ever heard of Tablet magazine?

    It claims to be Jewish, but the below-the-line comments are more viulently anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic than HuffPo: