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May 13, 2004

Comments

Wow.

Great post.

Time for tech transfer!

In a nutshell, he's saying the folks in the Middle East are less educated than in the rest of the world and have a distorted view of America. Got it.

But it isn't the horrendous literacy rates alone that make them such a threat to peace - it is when ignorance embraces religious fanaticism that a people can collectively represent a threat.

Whether it be kamikaze pilots dying for their emperor or bomb-strapped Muslims seeking a speedy trip to their 72 virgins, the religious fanatic is the most dangerous enemy to deal with.

They are the victim of propaganda (albeit age-old propaganda) and lose the value of life. When someone no longer values their own life they can do much damage. Most societies military & law enforcement systems are based on the concept that the enemy or lawbreaker wishes to survive. When dealing with a suicidal enemy that seeks martyrdom, the rules must change.

One sees Lileks hit rock bottom when he discusses nuking the Middle East - but this is partly due to the despair one feels when watching such abysmal, suicidal ignorance in action - one simply wishes to wipe it out in one clean sweep.

This is the wrong reaction though - it is the emotional reaction. Emotion leads one astray.

Education, not eradication, is the answer.

I have mentioned several times that Iraq is the eighth least literate nation in the world. The other seven are nations in Africa. This is the problem. Iraq makes Egypt seem well educated by comparison. The less educated, the more they are inclined towards fanaticism and killing.

Compulsory education needs to be implemented. Teachers need to be brought over from more educated Muslim nations by the thousands to create a more intelligent future generation of Iraqis.

Israel's approach and example, by failing to establish a wealthy literate Palestinian class, is an example of how prejudice can lead to a failed foreign and national security policy.

Stability is only brought by reason, not force. Fanaticism is a disease that festers among the ignorant and illiterate.

I fault the US in not having foreseen and prepared for the fanaticism factor. For truly the majority of literate Iraqis can only be happy about Saddam's removal and the American's effort. It's just these literate need to be increased numerically and their wealth needs to be increased exponentially as well, so that their words carry more clout in the community.

This is where Europe is snubbing America - they know these things I mention here. They are playing the devil's advocate in withholding their aid and suppressing investment. Not exactly selfless and sterling examples of humanity are currently working in these governments.

Education. Education. Education.

This moment will pass. These fanatics will age and many will perish soon. The answer is to embrace the young of the next generation and infuse it with wisdom never before offered to the masses in Iraq. Only then can Iraq, and for that matter the Middle East secure lasting peace and prosperity.

SDAI-Tech1

"In a nutshell, he's saying the folks in the Middle East are less educated than in the rest of the world and have a distorted view of America. Got it."

I was not saying that folks in the Middle East are less educated than in the rest of the world. And I'm not a he.

Less educated is really not the right phrasing here SDAI-Tech1.

Ireland boasts some of the best-educated people in Europe but there are remoter parts of some counties that only got phone service in private homes in the late 1980s. I remember a friend's mother declaring who would have thought they'd have that in the farms around Ennistymon during her lifetime. She had certainly seen and used phones before, but it still struck her as technology beyond her reach up until the 1980s.

Economics is a big part of what causes this delay in getting the technology out there. Familiarity with technology (think US parents vs. their children's comfort with computers) makes it seem less magical...less omnipotent.

If the US is seen to control the technology (including spy satellites, smart bombs, etc. etc.) it's no wonder the US is seen to be able to control other things.

"Economics is a big part of what causes this delay in getting the technology out there."

Sure a successful economy would help. Have you converted to the free market ideology?

What part of the free market ideology do you feel I'm not supporting Sebastian (he writes, taking the thread-jacking bait).

No sooner do I scold Sebastian for hijacking this thread than I feel compelled to do a bit of that myself (my bad).

Marshall, in responding to a reader who criticizes his "silence" about the Berg murder, offers this conclusion:

And you're not in a position to judge what I think based on my silence.

This should be the golden rule in the debate of this thread.

"And you're not in a position to judge what I think based on my silence."

I'm a conservative, I don't have to get all non-judgmental. :)

The idea that silence can't be judged is wrong.

If a Communist attacks the abuses of the free market but fails to address the genocide of Communism in action, the silence is very revealing.

If a television news show will publically reveal the horrors of an Iraqi prison and refuse to show the horror of Muslim extremists reveling in the beheading of a Jew, that is revealing.

If conservatives talk about Saddam's torture and fail to deal with Abu Ghraib that silence would be revealing.

Josh Marshall quite probably has nothing to say about Berg's murder (why in the world call it an execution?) because the existance of a large group of Muslim extremists who are willing to engage in that kind of activity challenges his approach to the war on terror.

His silence in light of his previous posts on the horrors of Abu Ghraib is in fact quite revealing. He can deal with people who can be investigated and stopped through normal Western policing channels, even if the channels are in a military court. He cannot deal with a culture that promotes the killing of Jews and the irrational targeting of people who are trying to build the infrastructure of an impoverished country. He cannot deal with a culture where the moderates will use ony words and only rarely that to resist the tide of hatred which has already swept through large swaths of Islam.

His response was a cop out. An understandable cop out. A cop out for the same reason why I didn't want to deal with Abu Ghraib. But a cop out none the less.

On reading my comment I will soften it (slightly). What the silence often reveals is an unwillingness or severe discomfort to deal with how the facts of the world fail to comport with your internal understanding/wish about how the world ought to work.

It is very human to have trouble with that. Heaven knows I do. But lots of bad things are very human activities. And we shouldn't feel we can't judge them as wrong or bad or not laudable.

hmmm ... I wonder if the guy emailing Marshall was the noxious troll "dellis," who hangs out at MAtthew Yglesias and spews insults all day.

That's interesting. I recall remarking in 2001 about the high rate of literacy as reported by the CIA website, in the 'Stan countries under Soviet control. He said, "Well Crionna, you have to be able to read in order for Pravda and posters et al. to be effective".

So, I guess it literacy cuts both ways.

That's interesting. I recall remarking in 2001 about the high rate of literacy as reported by the CIA website, in the 'Stan countries under Soviet control. He said, "Well Crionna, you have to be able to read in order for Pravda and posters et al. to be effective".

So, I guess literacy cuts both ways.

oops, sorry. Ugh.

"To people living in places where electricity has arrived within living memory, if it has arrived at all, the things we do are not comprehensible as the result of ordinary human endeavor."

My mother, still alive, can remember when her familiy--living in the United States--did not have electricity, back in the 20's and early 30's. Perhaps your generalization is a tad overbroad?

Rea, of course hilzoy's generalization is overbroad. It's a generalization. That's what they do.

It's pretty clear that hilzoy is posting from her (?) experiences. I suspect that it ought to be pretty clear to just about anybody reading the post. If you think hilzoy is wrong, say it; otherwise, why waste your time nitpicking phrasing rather than intent?

...rather than speaking to intent.

Blessit.

About the generalization -- it was, as noted, based on my experiences, though of course I wouldn't have posted it if I didn't think it had some validity. Still: the original question was, why do they believe these things about us? The part of my post that concerned technology was relevant at two points. First, I said that many of the people I encountered ascribed nearly limitless power to the US, and that this was partly because there are all these things that we produce that they not only cannot (or could not then) produce, but also can't see as the products of normal human efforts. I would think that some people in rural parts of the US in the early parts of this century might have had somewhat similar reactions to newly introduced technologies. But it's much more extreme in the Middle East, for a number of reasons. First, the technologies in question are far more advanced. (It's easier to understand a car than a cell phone or a TV. You can more or less figure out a Model T by taking it apart, if you have some mechanical aptitude; this is not true for anything involving electronics.) Second, they are not made in other parts of those countries, or in other parts of the Arab world, whereas the machines introduced into, say, Appalachia in the 1920s were probably made in someplace like Detroit or Chicago. Since they were not produced by strange people from another culture entirely, it would have been harder to think of the people who made them as having nearly magical powers.

Second, I wanted to say that there's a deep sense of humiliation in the Muslim Middle East, and that this is due not just to colonialism and Western military power but also to technology. Here (as before) the problem is not that they don't have TVs and cell phones; obviously, they do. It's that Muslim countries in the Middle East cannot produce them. -- In general, I think that it's hard to overestimate the destabilizing effect of technology on traditional societies. I do not say this because I think that we should therefore not export these technologies -- I have met people who think that it would somehow be better if, say, the traditional bedouin lifestyle had never been "disrupted" by things like electricity and running water, and I have always disagreed with them. But I do think that we should be aware that we are dealing with proud people who love their homes and their cultures, and who are in the midst of responding to the fact that the ground is shifting under their feet in ways they find profoundly threatening.

"Education, not eradication, is the answer."

But education in what manner? Madrassas? I believe--and have believed since not long after 9/11--that the fundamental answer is freedom. Free speech, free voting rights, free speech, free markets, property rights and the mechanisms to honor and uphold those rights. Go to Freedom House and note the connections between unfree countries and terrorist-friendly countries, see the relationships between freedom and prosperity. The fundamental question is, is there a place in Islam that permits such freedom? Judging by the few democracies in Muslim-majority countries, I'm not sure there is.

But education in what manner? Madrassas? I believe--and have believed since not long after 9/11--that the fundamental answer is freedom. Free speech, free voting rights, free speech, free markets, property rights and the mechanisms to honor and uphold those rights. Go to Freedom House and note the connections between unfree countries and terrorist-friendly countries, see the relationships between freedom and prosperity. The fundamental question is, is there a place in Islam that permits such freedom? Judging by the few democracies in Muslim-majority countries, I'm not sure there is.

No doubt about it - it's hard to do. The religious fanatics will fight tooth and nail against any foreign styled government that they feel isn't representative of Islam. I was thinking of Malaysia. While very few Malaysians speak Arabic, they are mostly Muslim and possibly have a good number of Muslim scholars and teachers who do speak Arabic and could be brought over to assist in schooling. Basically, as I see it, the US needs to start contracting out for Arabic speaking scholars from around the world. Not just a dozen - but at the very least a thousand - and their hiring would be money well spent. Schools need to be built or former structures converted to school usage. Education should be compulsory for boys and girls from age 6 until they are at least 18 years old. This would keep the youngsters out of trouble and away from the bad influences that want to shape them into little suicidal militants too.

Madrassas are not the answer. Way too prejudiced against women and home to too many militant Islamist teaching Jihad. Iraq's literacy hovers around 40% while Malaysia's literacy is around 89%. They are living proof that a Muslim nation can be educated. The Malaysian government is based on English Common Law, but the new Iraq government should, in my opinion, be molded after the US government with a congress and an executive branch. Freedom is definitely important, but I think some of their lack of freedom is due to the Arabs particular brand of Muslim religious doctrines such as the way women are treated, etc. Literally we are trying to transform a culture and educational system that is about 300-500 years in arrears of western civilization. That can't be done overnight - but it can be done.

There are no easy answers. It's a money pit to be certain, but one with a big payoff if it helps to reshape the entire Arab world. We need to get some more foreign investment in the region and wave some sort of carrots in front of the stubborn mules of Europe to get them a bit more motivated.

I was not saying that folks in the Middle East are less educated than in the rest of the world. And I'm not a he.

Well,unfortunately, they are. So it's what I was saying then.

Sorry Hilzoy you know the way it goes. It's the same old problem: he said, she said.

;-)

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