Shame And Reform

Steven Den Beste has one of his long-winded but astute pieces on why the shaming of the Arab world is a good thing. It is not that we want to punish the Arabs, it is that only through the realization that the current state of affairs has failed that true reform will be made possible.

While this sounds horrible, the fact remains that much of the Arab world is in a condition of both poverty and tyranny. Even relatively moderate leaders such as King Abdullah of Jordan find themselves walking a tightrope – swing too far towards democratic reform and the fundamentalists who have a death grip on the region will produce a potentially regime-toppling backlash.

The only way to make things better is to do what Den Beste suggests and continue to reform Iraq into a prosperous and democratic state. In fact, this is an absolute necessity. Failing to do this would undermine the chances for peace and stability in the region and lead to an increase in terrorism and fundamentalism.

In the end, while we will be acting as a referee for this transition, it must be the people of Iraq who do this for themselves. The Iraqis do not share the shame that the Arab world feels over this war – they have a sense of cautious optimism based on their newly-found freedoms. If this can be channeled into a free and open Iraq the wave of democratization could create a safe and prosperous Middle East. The benefits of success will change our world – the costs of failure will condemn the region to the same poverty and terrorism that now plague the region.

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