Sunday, May 09, 2004

Unproductivity of Middle East

Alright, not that I'm suggesting all of this article by Friedman, but these parts are pretty good, if a bit overly pointed.

"The Arab world, alas, has been cursed with oil. For decades, too many Arab countries have opted to drill a sand dune for economic growth rather than drilling their own people — men and women — in order to tap their energy, creativity, intellect and entrepreneurship. Arab countries barely trade with one another, and unlike Korea and Japan, rarely invent or patent anything. But rather than looking inward, assessing their development deficits, absorbing the best in modern knowledge that their money can buy and then trying to beat the West at its own game, the Arab world in too many cases has cut itself off, blamed the enduring Palestine conflict or colonialism for delaying reform, or found dignity in Pyrrhic victories like Falluja.

To be sure, there are exceptions. Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, Dubai, Morocco and Tunisia are all engaged in real experiments with modernization, but the bigger states are really lost. A week ago we were treated again to absurd Saudi allegations that "Zionists" were behind the latest bombing in Saudi Arabia, because, said Saudi officials, "Zionists" clearly benefit from these acts. Someone ought to tell the Saudis this: Don't flatter yourselves. The only interest Israelis have in Saudi Arabia is flying over it to get to India and China — countries that actually trade and manufacture things other than hatred of "infidels." "


"Yes, we Americans need to look in a mirror and ask why we've become so radioactive. But the Arabs need to look in a mirror too. "They are using our mistakes to avoid their own necessity to change, reform and modernize," says the Mideast expert Stephen P. Cohen."

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