The Happy Arab News Service

Friday, November 27, 2009

Reagan at Brandenburg Gate. June 12, 1987

The Wall

Fouad Ajami is wondering whether the peoples of Islam will "tear down their walls as the people of Central and Eastern Europe tore down theirs".

NOVEMBER 9, 2009, 7:32 P.M. ET

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Once again, there arises the question in our midst of whether political freedom, broadly conceived, can and ought to be taken to distant lands. In the George W. Bush years, American power and diplomacy gave voice to a belief in freedom's possibilities. A different sentiment animates American practice today.

For the peoples of Islam, the question can be squarely put: Will they tear down their walls in the manner in which the people of Central and Eastern Europe tore down theirs? The people of Islam are thus sorely tested. They will have to show their own fidelity to liberty. Strangers with big guns and ample means can ride into their midst with the best of intentions and skills, but it is their own world, their own civilization, that is now in history's scales.

Source: Wall Street Journal

My own take on the Arab Wall can be found in a discussion here. Together with this post and the comments section of another one, it should be a pretty accurate account of my current views on diversity and immigration, the link between democracy and development, successful binational states and other, I would call them, Ivory Tower fabrications.

Probably the most important passage in Ajami's very excellent article is this:

It wasn't always pretty, the emancipation of these captive nations. Communism always carried within its doctrine the stern warning that national chauvinisms would spring to the fore were its "internationalism" to give way. Yugoslavia bore out that message. What rose from its graveyard were pitiless nationalisms whose crimes are indelibly etched in our memories. Tito had indeed held together an impossible country. Nor were matters pretty in Romania, no velvet revolution in the twisted, dark tyranny of the Ceaucescus. The march to ballots and free markets was not always an attractive, or a straightforward, tale.

We should have it very clear (and Ajami would do well to reread the quote of his above): Throughout the Middle East the Arab Wall is holding together impossible countries.

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