The Happy Arab News Service

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The Point of No Return

I picked up this graph from Philip I without his permission. Given some contents of my blog i decided to save Philip a heart attack and keep him blissfully unaware that his graph is now serving my propaganda. Though he probably would have nothing to object to in this post.

One of the Israel's richest men, Stef Wertheimer, once came up with the following theory about making peace. Paraphrasing the well known thesis about democracies, he said that sufficiently developed free market economies don't fight each other, but instead make democracy inevitable.

Some people would find in these ideas the old fashioned economic determinism but I think that plus minus the idea is right. Economic development causes societies to mellow, weakens clan loyalties and sectarian divisions. I believe economic growth does make difference. Wertheimer traveled up to Washington to persuade the Americans to set in motion a new Marshall plan for the Middle East. It never happened.

The interesting thing is that Wertheimer even defined in economic terms what he considers to be the point of no return - 6000$ of GDP per capita. This is why this graph caught my attention. The stagnation of Jordan and in particular Syria is interesting. But this is not the point. The point is that apparently before the war not only Lebanon was hitting the Wertheimer's point of no return, but at the pace that would have positioned Lebanon far above the point very soon.

It's of course pure speculations but I do think that another ten years of such economic growth would have softened the sectarian divisions inside Lebanon (Though I am not Lebanese. How can I know?) and even demilitarized Hezbollah eventually. Even given the uneven distribution of wealth inside Lebanon I can't imagine Shiites fighting such a war as the last one in ten years from now. This is of course on condition that the last war would have never happened.


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Proclaimed un monstruooo muy monstruoso at 8:59 PM