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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Arab blame of internal problems on outside influence

In this post I said that I would talk about some of the other issues that Aric raised in the comments to this post. Aric said:

The idea that there is blame for external forces for internal problems is correct, but also misleading. It is misleading in the sense that there HAS been a high degree of external meddling in Middle Eastern affairs, compared to what you might see in Western Europe or the United States.
And goes on to list several specific examples. I am not disputing the fact that Western powers have interfered in the Arab world for a long time. Some of that interference may have been justified in light of the cold war, others incidents are simply inexcusable. Regardless of that, I don’t think that the excuses of the Arab world are useful to them because the excuses tend to prevent them from actually solving problems. Additionally these same excuses are used for problems that have little or nothing to do with outside influences. What is important to me about this is a mindset that says all these problems aren’t my fault they are the fault of others, therefore I can do nothing to fix the problems in my society and must instead rage against those who caused my problems. As an aside, I am sure the Iraqi Football (soccer) Team is glad to be going to the Olympics and even gladder not to be under Uday's management. I do not imply that this is a problem unique to the Arab world but it does seem to be especially prevalent there. Aric goes on to say a few things that I have some real disagreement with.
Finally, the U.S. invasion of Iraq proved the point as far as "external interference" is concerned. While totalitarian, the average person in Iraq under Saddam could generally count on food on the table, schools, a job of some sort, and a stable electricity supply. None of those things is true under the U.S. occupation.
Under the oil for food program Saddam specifically used food to supplies to reward his supporters and punish his enemies. This was also done with electricity. In Baghdad the electrical supply is less stable than it was, partly due to attacks by insurgents against the infrastructure and partly because Coalition Forces are purposefully evening out the supply to regions that were getting little or none before the war. As for schools Education under Saddam was far from perfect or universal. A particular example is the Marsh Arabs
That same day, at a community meeting, the Marsh Arabs made it clear that the marsh alone can no longer sustain them. Their children, for years, had been denied an education. They demanded books, a blackboard and a teacher for a primary school built by Saddam but never opened. (article here)
The Coalition Forces have been working hard to repair old and damaged schools as well as other projects. Also good news is that many college professors who fled Iraq are now returning. On the economic front, while unemployment is a problem, things seem to be improving quickly. This account by an Iraqi blogger gives us some anecdotal evidence of how things are going economically there. Here is another account from a different Iraqi blogger who is having a hard time finding people to work for him.


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