The Happy Arab News Service

Friday, August 7, 2009

You don't send a cat to deliver creme

This post is an update to Sheep in Wolf's Clothing

Fuad Ajami about Arab Human Development Report 2009 compiled by a group of Arab intellectuals under sponsorship of the UNDP (United Nations Development Program).

The simple truth is that the Arab world has terrible rulers and worse oppositionists. There are autocrats on one side and theocrats on the other. A timid and fragile middle class is caught in the middle between regimes it abhors and Islamists it fears.

Indeed, the technocrats and intellectuals associated with these development reports are themselves no angels. On the whole, they are unreconstructed Arab nationalists. The patrons of these reports are the likes of the Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi and the Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi, intellectuals and public figures whose stock-in-trade is presumed Western (read American) guilt for the ills that afflict the Arabs. Anti-Americanism suffuses this report, as it did the earlier ones.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

The afore mentioned report enumerates various evils responsible for the presumed current crisis of the Arab world from global warming to the possession of oil. The chief villains of course are outside meddling and local autocrats who by understanding are also a kind of implants of or at least supported by foreign powers. Widely commented upon is the absence in the report of stuff like the role of Islamic fundamentalism. Never mind the Arab intellectuals themselves or the half century long uninterrupted population explosion that's only now coming to an end.

This cannot be any other way given that the so called Arab intellectuals (This is a misnomer as very often there is very little intellectual or intelligent about these people) are up to their necks in responsibility for the existence of the same despotic regimes or bloodshed in Iraq and Darfur. Many current Arab regimes came to power and maintained it while cheered upon by the Arab intellectual elites, who often shared their socialist and anti Western orientation. The latest mess in Iran was another demonstration of how ambivalent Arab intellectuals can get when it comes to trading resistance for democracy. Some seem to be utterly unable to kiss goodbye to this darling of the anti Western resistance, which is Ahmalala, even for the sake of supporting democracy and popular will.

In fact, the very structure of the report betrays the crooked logic of the people who compiled it. The report's central thesis is a kind of "We have a problem because we have problems". "Human security is a prerequisite for human development, and its widespread absence in Arab countries has held back their progress," says the report and then identifies various political, economical and environmental threats to human security. The logic of the report is a kind of "Give us the first world's education and social security standards, democracy and please take away this global warming plague, so we can start with our human development". Guys, you don't need any human development after this. This IS human development.

The report bundles together "A lack of representative government coupled with human rights violations and sweeping powers for security agencies..." with "Threats to life and peace for millions of people as a result of the Palestinian occupation, the U.S. military intervention in Iraq,...". Has the US military intervention in Iraq not brought to the country a representative government and removed, or at least tried to remove, sweeping powers for security agencies? That the country was later swamped with hundreds of suicide bombers who volunteered for their missions inside Shia mosques and markets from all corners of the Arab world is also a fault of the intervention? By far the thing that impressed most many observers was how little the Arab intellectuals had to say about tremendous suicide attacks unleashed by the Sunni insurgents while they were busy decrying occupation and lauding resistance. In many ways the US intervention in Iraq was the best chance ever given to the Arab world to skip over many hurdles enumerated in the report and there can be no denying that many Arab intellectuals did their best to derail this experiment in forced democratization.

In short, it may sound counter intuitive but the Arab intellectuals are not the kind of people to be trusted with writing reports about the state of the Arab world for the very simple reason of "You don't send a cat to deliver creme".

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Proclaimed un monstruooo muy monstruoso at 6:29 PM