Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Gah, I was going to post about the apparent disappearance over the last couple of days of www.cpa-iraq.org, but then I just found it again at www.iraqcoalition.org. NO conspiracy here, move along.

I was reading this on it, which I admit is obviously biaised, but does provide a fascinating insight into mind of "the other side" (the author is Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, a "close associate" of Mr Bin Laden).

I found it extremely interesting as to...

  • how much of a sense of both history and politics the author had

  • who the various parties are, and the attitudes towards them

  • how long this had been going on for, after doing some cursory searches for various names mentioned, such as Tartar. This goes wayyyy back, easily to the 13th Century, back to the 5th and more.

  • how violent the continent(s) have been up until (and including) now

  • just how little we understand of other people's cultures before deciding that democracy and free markets are "obviously" the best thing for them

  • just how much "tide" there is to swim against in the work and war that's going on out in the East now

I've always thought that taking a place by force and shoving democracy down its throat isn't a sustainable future. Democracy in Europe has gathered pace over hundreds and hundreds of years, and has always been accompanied by a culture of military superiority. It took mass genocide and two world wars to get people to understand why living a daily diet of armies and weapons was possibly a bad thing - two huge events that wiped out populations, infrastructures, cities and histories. The East has been in constant turmoil, but lacks the stark horror, perhaps, of full-scale devastation.

To think that the values and ideas that we've developed in the West all this time will magically slot into a vastly different people is not ridiculous, but it cannot be achieved with occupation and might. To be sustainable, it must develop of its own accord, by its own people - the end result is not the solution, rather the understanding obtained by the people through reaching that result is. A child in an old man's body is not automatically made wise.

Unfortunately, we live in a culture of both globalisation and militism, neither of which afford much lee-way to independence and discovery. I think it's more important to give those who need them the tools to find their own way out, while we can only offer advice. Not an easy task.

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