Friday, September 11, 2015

The Time Has Come to Open Our Eyes to the Arab Disaster. By Ari Shavit.

The Time Has Come to Open Our Eyes to the Arab Disaster. By Ari Shavit. Haaretz, September 10, 2015.

Shavit:

The dysfunction that made Syria so different from Indonesia, and Iraq so different from South Korea, was never recognized, diagnosed or treated.

The Arab humanitarian disaster is now migrating from the Middle East to central Europe. Millions of refugees are looking for a home, hundreds of thousands of desperate people are making their way on foot. Thousands are drowning in the sea. An infant’s body is washed ashore and awakens the latent conscience of an obtuse world.

But in all this horrifying human pandemonium – ramshackle boats, loaded trains, displaced people’s camps – no one can honestly and seriously say what is happening here. Why now. What has caused us to witness such a horrifying massive, painful migration?

The first reason for the Arab humanitarian disaster is the Arab political failure. What are the political options that the Arab world has to offer its youngsters? A reactionary monarchy, a military dictatorship, an Islamic theocracy or murderous chaos. Some hope may still be flickering in Tunisia, in Beirut things are somewhat different. But basically the region we live in is depressing and without hope. There are no human rights, no human dignity, no separation of powers.

When the globalization of the media demonstrates to the hopeless the gap between the (Arab) world they live in and the (European) world next door – they get up and go. Millions are voting with their feet against the colossal failure of the national Arab project that failed to produce a single state combining prosperity and freedom.

The second reason for the Arab humanitarian disaster is the West’s strategic failure. In the second half of the 20th century the United States and Europe contributed to stabilizing a post-colonial order in the Middle East. This order was rotten and corrupt. It was based on a shady deal of supporting dark regimes in exchange for a regular oil supply. But, in its distorted way, the rotten, corrupt order worked. It reduced the number of wars in our region and restricted the extent of human suffering.

But in the early 21st century the United States and Europe toppled the old Middle Eastern order with an insane war in Iraq, an idiotic war in Libya and indirect support for the Muslim Brotherhood. The result wasn’t an alternative order that stabilizes enlightened regimes and advances democratic values, but utter disorder. It was civil wars and fanatics’ wars and inter-tribal wars. The Western powers’ idealistic ambition – na├»ve, idealistic and cut off from reality – wreaked havoc in the last 12 years throughout the Middle East.

The third reason for the Arab humanitarian disaster is political correctness. Professor Edward Said and his students caused indescribable damage to the ability to think or speak the truth when it comes to the Arab world. Their wacky intellectual legacy did not permit talking about the region’s residents as anything but victims. The grand Arab nation – with its rich history, profound culture and considerable economic power – was treated like a juvenile who isn’t responsible for his actions. So all the ills of Arab politics were attributed to others – imperialists, colonialists, Zionists. So no real criticism of the Arab world was permitted and no one demanded it mend itself.

The dysfunction that made Syria so different from Indonesia, and Iraq so different from South Korea, was never recognized, diagnosed or treated. Thus, following the fatal junction of the Arab failure, the Western failure and political correctness, states crumbled, hundreds of thousands of people were murdered and millions lost their homes.

The time has come to open our eyes. There will be no isolated solution to the tragedy of the displaced people now flooding central Europe. The only answer is to acknowledge that the Middle East is a disaster-stricken area and initiate a comprehensive Marshall plan to deal with its fundamental problems, which are consuming the lives of its residents and refugees.