So, here’s the problem.
The Iraqis don’t understand the needs of civilization. For that matter, neither do the Palestinians.
Or, no. They understand the needs of a more traditional, rural and nomadicÂ form of civilization, but they don’t really understand the needs of a civilization with closely interconnected dependencies.
Two hundred years ago, Palestinian (i.e., Syrian) and Iraqi civilization worked. The cities and towns and villages were small. The growth rates were large, and the rate of disease and famine even larger.
Disease and starvation kept Arab populations small, and a small population doesn’t require a sophisticated approach to civilization.
However, anti-SemitismÂ in Europe and Russia brought Jews who wished to forge a new identity, and with the Jews came healthcare, sanitation, advanced agriculture, advanced communication, etc. The Arab population started to grow.
The discovery of oil and the weakness of the Ottoman Empire brought the Europeans, and with the Europeans cameÂ more of what the Jews had brought with them, and the Arab population exploded.Â
Increased anti-Semitism in Europe andÂ a reawakening of Jewish nationalism increased the flow of Jews into Palestine – bringing even more wealthÂ and opportunity.Â Suddenly, tiny, under populated, disease-ridden Palestine became a place where you could find a job, and Arabs from Syria started to move in.
The problem is that the influx of Jews and Europeans didn’t change the way that the Arabs saw civilization. The Europeans and Jews believed in the rule of law and the rights of the individual, and the Arabs believed in the rule of the patriarch and the rights of the clan.
It is true that the Arabs adopted many of the social and political institutions that serve important roles in western civilization, but they never internalized the foundations that those institutions rested upon. They never fully embraced the morals and ideals that Europeans espoused, and they never fully let go of their old civilization.
They fell into a two-track approach that could only lead to authoritarianism and/or disaster.
Until Iraqis and Palestinians can internalize the requirements of a more sophisticated civilization, they are doomed. The problem is that they don’t know it, and our leaders don’t know it.