Derbyshire at NRO asks a genuinely HARD question.Given that the four London suicide bombers were all raised -- in at
least one case, born and raised -- in Britain, the quintessential
liberal democracy; and given that the entire premise of current U.S.
policy is that we can end suicide bombing and other terrorism by
bringing liberal democracy to the Middle East; shouldn't we be
re-thinking our policy?
My answer, by no means valid, runs like this:
Democracy itself isn't the main variable in either case. It's just one tool, perhaps even a symbol, aimed at a larger goal. Reducing the power of the 'lost empire' motive, and distributing hope more widely, is the ultimate goal.
Consider first the difference between Old World and New. 'Born and raised' means less in the New World. In this hemisphere, alienation is more evenly distributed. Nobody has an ancestral right to titles and land, which means that outsiders aren't quite so far outside and insiders aren't guaranteed perpetual insidership. Our home-grown terrorists (so far anyway) haven't been suicidal because of this reduced gradient.
In the Arab part of the world, paranoia reigns supreme. Mohammed owned half of the known world 1000 years ago. The Crusades, and the rise of capitalism in places like Venice, led to the loss of Mohammed's empire. The Arab paranoid explanation accurately credits these two events for the loss, but misses the main point. Yes, it was indeed the Jewish bankers, but it wasn't a secret conspiracy.
Um .., Well, actually it was, and here's the secret symbol of the conspiracy: (Don't tell anyone!!!!!)
Now you know: Charging interest for loans is why Jews and Christians took over, and Mohammed lost his empire. It's not quite the whole story, of course, but it was the critical starting point for organized capitalism.
With open credit, banks want to lend money to anyone who looks like a good risk. Higher interest for higher risk. Without a modern credit system, everything depends on personal power. Under Mohammed's rules, banks are not allowed to pay or receive interest, so they rig up various under-the-table schemes, essentially bribery, and all highly dependent on personal status. In Saudi Arabia the hereditary elite controls all the money. In Saddam's Iraq, the Party elite controlled everything.
Now, as we introduce the arrangement code-worded as democracy, we are also introducing modern banking methods. We've already seen the effects of the political change, as Sunni leaders like Sadr have laid down their arms to push for political power. We have yet to see the effect of the economic changes, but if the experiment works, there will be a gradual fadeout of personal power and paranoid explanations, and a fade-in of individualistic thinking. If you fail, it's not because the Jews are conspiring against you; it's because you didn't aim properly or try hard enough.