Monday, February 5, 2007


The whole of the Arab world has an economy smaller than that of Portugal. Portugal may be doing pretty well nowadays, but it's no superpower. Doesn't speak well for all those hundreds of millions of Arabs, does it. You'd think they'd stop having such a backwards system after all this time. If Ireland can do it, they should be able to. Ireland never had an empire. The Arabs most certainly did, and still do. But it's an empire of backwardness.

The Arab world has, as a whole, oil. A legacy resource. Not earned, not the result of any virtue in the occupiers of the land. Inherited. No shame in that. But what has been done with this geological largesse? Where does all that windfall wealth go? Wasted. Frittered away. There is shame in that.

Yes, the Moslem sphere, like most of the rest of the world, has been colonized. How is that a bad thing? America was colonized. Canada and Australia were colonized. These nations are paradises compared to so much of the rest of the world. Hmm. Must be race, then. Those Anglo-Saxons are the master race, apparently. Wish I was one. But at least I have benefited from partaking in their superior, master-race culture. What? What? I'm wrong? It has nothing to do with race? Okay. But what does it have to do with? Culture? Okay. Those Anglo-Saxons have the master culture.

I jest, of course. Not "master". Just most likely to create prosperity.

Nations export whatever they have a lot of. Peru exported guano, and when they used it all up, they exported abalone, and when they over-fished they exported coffee -- then drugs. Et cetera. A colonial and short-sighted mindset of exploitation -- first imposed, then self-perpetuated. Japan, like Switzerland, is not overly-blessed with resources. They export the products of thrift and intelligence. Mexico is blessed with resources, but it has a culture of backwardness, so that its wealth is wasted. Mexico exports its excess population. The ancient Greeks had an infertile and unfavored land. They exported oil, though. Olive oil. If life hands you olives, make olive oil. But what they really had a lot of, and what they exported, was their culture. That's what the USA is exporting nowadays. Its culture.

Well, Moslems have a culture. Alas, its current phase seems to require that it export terrorism and conquest. Nothing unusual there. Japan did the same thing in the first half of the last century. Japan grew up though. It got civilized.

So there's hope. Maybe Islam will become civilized, and live in peace and harmony with its global neighbors. Maybe this will happen without the response the world needed eventually to make with, say, the Nazis. Maybe Islam can reform itself, without having to be humiliated and utterly crushed. Maybe God or Allah will smile upon the sultry lands and raise up wise and moderate leaders, who will invest the wealth of their nations in building a just and equitable society, where merit brings prosperity and there is an Arabic Dream that is equally as beautiful and promising as the American Dream. The American Dream, shared now, or envied, by the whole of the civilized world. No, not the licentiousness of its culture. The promise rather that the future can be better than the past.

That's the answer then. When these countries look to themselves for hope, rather than fleeing across the harsh frontiers or the wide seas -- when wealth is seen as a thing created from ingenuity and as a blessing to be wisely shared and shrewdly invested, rather than squandered ... then their exports will be lawful and they will be possessed not merely of a culture -- cannibals have a culture -- but of a civilization in the highest sense of the term.

How can such a thing be made to happen? Conquering Iraq doesn't really seem to be the answer -- surgery is a response to cancer, not the cure. Opening our borders seems like a foolish thing to do. Thus neither strength nor weakness will do. Is there some third option? If only wisdom weren't such an arbitrary thing. If only blessings had some origin other than only our ancestors, or geology, or some other unpredictable and uncontrollable source.

I don't know. What are you looking at me for? I don't know. I'm just thinking out loud.


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