This Washington Post column analyzes the mid-East on-line media’s reactions to the war. Although there is nothing shocking in all of this it does show, once again, how dysfunctional some of mid-East societies are and how critical events (like losing wars) always force them to re-examine themselves; hence the "collapse" of Arab thought, etc. But note the different kinds of opinions manifested in the Arab world refered to in this article. This re-examination is not yet deep enough, as far as I’m concerned, and at the moment it may be based on fear and self-loathing. But I am willing to bet that a better sort of re-examination will continue with greater force once Iraq is stabilized and a new and better regime is built. The juxtaposition of something so much better to the current tyrannies will continue the soul-searching, as it should, and it will not be based entirely on fear.
And if bin Ladin and his ilk are irritated by the U.S.’s presence in Arabia, the Muslim Holy Land, the most symbolic location in the world of Islam, then they will be also irritated by our occupation of Baghdad, as Bernard Lewis says, "the seat of the caliphate for half a millenium and the scene of some of the most glorious chapters in Islamic history." This irritation will lead to anger in some circles, most certainly, but it will lead to a re-examination in other circles and just may be a point of hope and progress.
It just might lead to something more productive than self-loathing in other circles. And the Arab media can ignore facts (not only our winning of the war, but in the considerate and magnanimous waging of it) for only so long; as Churchill said, you have to look at facts, because facts have a way of looking at you. You can pretend that this is a war of occupation in which we devastated the country and killed untold number of civilians, or you can start seeing the truth, that we overthrew a vile tyranny, saved the country with minimum damage to not only civilians but to the military as well, never mind saving the infrastructure. Iraq will begin to be free, and will prosper. These will be loud facts, and the facts will not allow themselves to be ignored.
Then add to this an easing of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and those Arab countries in need will be forced to consider psychotherapists who just might be able to argue that the human mind is created is free, and that people, including those that happen to be Arabs, actually have choices to make and just may decide to follow different stars. And, as Amir Taheri argues, the West has not done well in understanding the Arab worlds; let’s emphasize the diversity within the nation-states that claim to be Islamic, as well as their various interests, instead of thinking that they all think alike and talk alike and all are full participants in dysfunctional politics. I am hopeful.