Naive, or a plan for the future?


Foreign Affairs is running an article containing a grand plan to end Islamist radicalism.

It’s not the first article to draw comparisons between the West’s clashes with the ideologies of fascism, communism and Islamism (off the top of my head I thought of this one, from 2007).

But the Foreign Affairs article argues that the US can implement measures to weaken the Islamist ideology. I’m not sure it’s on the money, at least not in the short-term.

I think the consequences of these moves would be to bring about Islamist governments.

The answer to an end to Islamism (and a wider flourishing of democratic ideals in the Middle East) lies not in America but in the Middle East. Only when the people there decide they’ve had enough will help from the West actually work. As the Foreign Affairs article points out, it’s those populations that have lived under Islamist governments that are more willing to see the back of them.

I’ve often thought that the Arab Middle East will follow the path of Iran. Consider that Iran’s Islamic Revolution is (slowly) coming apart. While the Green Movement from a decade ago failed, there is no doubt that Iranians are getting to the point where they will be ready to bear the costs of shrugging off the yolk of Islamist government.

A significant proportion of the Arab world, however, which has suffered the tyranny of kings and dictators since independence, continues to see Islamism as the panacea to their woes. Elections and revolutions in the Arab world in the short- to medium-term will result in the same thing – Islamist governments, because that is the will of the people.

The West, I fear, must live through this and wait until the Arab world has experienced Islamist government and realise firsthand that it offers nothing positive. Only then will moves from the West help. Hopefully it won’t take as long as the Iranian process. Events seem to move quicker these days, but I, for one, am not holding my breath.

But maybe I’m wrong. What do you think?