Wither The Middle East?

The only certitude concerning issues in the Middle East is that there will be problems in the Middle East for the coming decades. As one reviews the past twenty years of global history, a disproportionate amount of time and energy has focused on Middle Eastern issues. Many blame the existence of Israel as a major problem in the region, but if Israel disappeared tomorrow there would still be anger, hate, and conflict within the region. If one returned to the world of 1945, it would be clear the difference in living standards between Egypt or Turkey would not be far different from the lives of people in Taiwan or Japan or Singapore, but today the gap is measured in thousands of dollars per year. Asian nations economically took off while Middle Eastern societies stagnated. In 1945, the Middle East possessed leaders and an economic core, but these centers of potential progress never matured.

Ironically, Turkey and Israel have made the most giant economic steps toward modernity. Iran has the educated elite but they have been stifled by religious leaders who prefer the world to come to the world that is. Saudi Arabia exemplifies the problems of the Middle East. It has enormous wealth under its soil, but today aside from modern cities that offer western life styles to a small elite, the majority of its population are stifled in terms of economic development. Women are prevented from using their talents, and all too many bright young men leave to find other arenas for their talents.

Why is a valid question. Is it the grip of clerics on society? Is it an inability to create market driven economies that allow bright young men and women to employ their talents? The bottom line is “Israel” is an excuse for inaction. The fault lies not in Jerusalem, but in themselves.

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