Let's Review: T.E. Lawrence on "The Arab Mind"

Can you fix the link, Gerard? Also, consider the Arab Mind by Rafael Patai. Excellent source of insight.

Posted by Jewel at February 2, 2011 7:14 PM

I think it more likely the Arab mind will end in Richard Fernandez's Three Conjectures and we in turn will destroy our souls in the process.

Posted by David McKinnis at February 2, 2011 9:29 PM

Destroy our souls? Not if we are forced to implement 1 x 10 ^9 in self-defense. Most of us don't think our souls require allowing someone else to kill us.

Posted by Steve Johnson at February 3, 2011 4:45 AM

It is said that a second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience. Right now, the optimism that I hear from the administration and the MSM in the midst of a very fluid situation sounds very much like the hope for the second marriage.

The problem with the optimism that many are expressing for the revolutions in the Middle East is that, while there are many examples of happy marriages, there are no examples of democratic Islamist regimes. The Middle East was substantially converted to Islam following the dictates and example of Muhammad who'se rule and religion was spread by the sword. This situation has not changed substantially since Mohammad’s death in 632. Before Mohammad the region was ruled by Romans, king and Pharaohs; after him it was ruled by Caliphs. There is no - zero - example of Democracy in the Middle East with the exception of Israel and a very shaky state – Iraq – which was created, nurtured and shaped by the American military following the invasion under George Bush. To repeat, there is no history or political culture of representative government in the Middle East.

The one unifying factor in the region is Islam, a religion that demands submission to its political and theological dictates on pain of death. Not since Henry the Eight created the English church and became its political head have rulers held such secular and religious power.

It is said that in every human breast there is the desire to be free. Perhaps, but it’s also true that in many human breasts is the desire to force others to our will. To believe what we believe and agree with our ideas. In the dominant culture in America that wish is expressed in the demand that Glenn Beck should be fired, that Rush Limbaugh should be banned and Sarah Palin should shut up. In many Islamic countries it’s expressed in beheading, hanging or stoning.

The Egyptian people have been misruled by Mubarak for decades. But he’s not the first or the worst. The people in the Middle East have been misruled for centuries. If the levelers in America were truly concerned about wealth discrepancies, they would slink away from criticizing American wealth disparities and focus on the truly incredible differences between the rich and the poor in Africa and the Middle East.

With no history of democracy and a culture and religion that disdains individual freedom, the concept that democracy will spring from the revolutions that are now engulfing the region is unrealistic. Remember what we were told about the revolution in China: that Mao was an agrarian reformer. Castro was sold as a freedom fighter. We helped overthrow the Shah to usher in a repressive theocracy despite a population that favors Western values.

And, God help us, we have a President who really doesn’t like the America he was elected to lead.

I would like to be wrong, but Democracy is a rare flower; repression and authoritarianism is the global rule not the exception. Hoping and wishing that the people of Egypt will throw off the yoke of literally millennia of repression – all by themselves – and usher in the rule of law and a representative government is a believable as the Easter Bunny.

I pray I’m wrong, and would love to have to eat my words in a year. But the odds are loaded heavily in my favor. The problem is, if I’m right, we lose and so do the poor people of the Middle East.

Posted by Moneyrunner at February 3, 2011 5:14 AM

Democracy will never be imposed. Freedom must be watered with tears. Until we decide that FREEDOM is a requirement for free people to give up their taxes for aid there will be nothing but Islamic welfare states over there. Constitutional inclusion of the First Amendment and yearly state of the amendment (SOA) sessions in their parliaments are an absolute requirement for any aid. We can trade freely with anyone. We cannot give welfare to our enemies.

Posted by SenatorMark4 at February 3, 2011 9:43 AM

Moneyrunner, FWIW:

Turkey is a democracy after a fashion. It has enjoyed representative government in fits and starts, and has had democracy for quite some time now. That relative freedom may be threatened by Islamism.

Also, the secular state of Turkey came at a terrible price to non-Turks within its borders.

Lebanon has also had a democracy of sorts, and was doing fairly well with it until the civil war of the late 70's sabotaged everything.

Posted by Don Rodrigo at February 3, 2011 10:03 AM

Nice quote, and I'm a great fan of Lawrence. Only one problem -- everyone who lives in the Middle East is not an Arab. Like, you know, the Egyptians, Turks, Lebanese, etc. Lawrence was talking about Bedouin tribesmen.

Posted by Joe Hooker at February 3, 2011 10:34 AM

I've wanted to read this book for a long time, particularly after reading a quote about how the weak and emasculated hate times of valor and honor because it gets in the way of when they can be in charge and things are safe, comfortable, and seduce people into thinking we don't need valor and honor.

Posted by Christopher Taylor at February 3, 2011 11:19 AM

Both the left and the right are wrong on Egypt.

The left completely ignores the real threat of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the likelyhood that if the Egyptian military loses control now, the Brotherhood will move into the power vacuum, and we will have another Iran on our hands. The left, and Obama, should be making it abundantly clear that the US will not deal, or give aid to, any Egyptian gov that is dominated by the Islamic Brotherhood, and will not support any leader, like El Baridai, who does not denounce the Brotherhood. They should not protest any Egyptian gov moves to supress looters, or Brotherhood inspired violence, but should encourage them to leave peaceful democratic protestors alone, and to keep the internet open.

The right backs Mubarak without question, when they should be pushing for gradual secular democratic reform, with the Egyptian military continuing to supress the Brotherhood, while encouraging secular democratic opposition, until the secular democrats are strong enough to take over from the military, while still being able to control the Brotherhood, and other violent Islamists.

Egypt depends a lot on our aid, and westarn tourism. We have some real leverage with them, as long as the brotherhood does not take over. We should use this leverage.

Posted by richard40 at February 3, 2011 12:59 PM

Islam is what will triumph as the end product of these present revolutions with a grand coming together to form the new Caliph. In the course of time, it is inevitable.There will be one more world war, that some might survive, east or west will make no difference in the victory because the world we have known will have disappeared by nuclear holocaust and starvation. The coming of the Mahdi
will occur, but it will not herald a victory for Allah, because the world will leave no inheritors.

Posted by Warlord at February 3, 2011 7:11 PM