Ch. 19 The Modern Transformation in the Islamic World

The Imperial Age

    There was a wide variety of European imperialism in the Islamic world at the end of World War II. The French had colonized the coast of Algeria with more than a million immigrants, the Pieds-Noirs. This area had been officially annexed by France, which was supposed to be a permanent arrangement. After the war, the French were withdrawing from Syria and Lebanon but were still trying to retain their colonial possessions in Tunis and Morocco, along with Algeria. 1

British Hegemony

    The British imperial presence in the Islamic world was complicated. Since the 19th century, Egypt and the Suez Canal were the most important transportation hub and military base of the entire empire. The British army had occupied Egypt in 1882 and defeated a nationalist revolt of the Egyptian army. The English formed an unequal alliance with the Egyptian royal dynasty that jointly ruled the country until after World War II. The British were the power behind the throne. The Egyptian people knew what was going on, and they did not like it, which is why the British tried to operate in the background as much as possible. 2

    The English did not want to rule Egypt. They just wanted to control the Suez Canal and establish as many military bases as needed. Their purpose was to ensure the free flow of men, ships, cargoes, and business dealings through Egypt and on to Arabia, Persia, India, China, and British East Africa. In exchange for the use of all necessary facilities, the British paid a substantial rent to the Egyptian royal government. The main thing that they did not want was to have any major problems with popular nationalist revolutionary movements. 3

    The English did not want to run the day to day affairs of Iran and Iraq either. They just wanted to control the oil and have compliant local governments that would keep order and accept British hegemony. These countries were technically independent under the rule of royal dynasties that had been chosen by the English. The problem was that these monarchs did not have much support among their own people. 4

    The British also had close relationships with the hereditary rulers of the small Emirates and Principalities on the Gulf coast of the Arabian Peninsula and with the King of Jordan. These dynasties had wider support from their populations and were much more secure. 5

Emerging Nation States

    The French were adamant that their Algerian colony was an inseparable part of France. The English maintained that their areas of influence consisted of independent nations who were friendly allies of the British Empire. Other Islamic countries were achieving a much more robust form of independence and national sovereignty. Turkey and Saudi Arabia had never come under the control of Europeans. Syria and Lebanon became fully independent in 1946, Pakistan in 1947, and Indonesia in 1949. 6

Israel

    Despite these early signs of progress toward independence, renewed European imperialism was still a major preoccupation in the Arab world during the late 1940s. Jewish refugees from Europe had just seized control of Palestine with the support of Europeans and Americans. The Arab states had sent their armies to prevent this, but without success. 7

    The Arab forces were equipped and trained with modern weapons, but had no combat experience against modern opponents. They were not yet ready for the challenge and were defeated by the Jews. The creation of Israel placed a new and aggressive colony of European immigrants on Arab soil and demonstrated the inability of Arab armies to do anything to stop it. This had very troubling implications for the entire region. 8

Time to Become Modern

    It was time for the emerging Islamic nations to become fully-sovereign with the capability of self-defense. As of 1949, they were not anywhere close. Most of the Islamic world was still eighty to ninety percent traditional. There were peasants, aristocrats, Bedouin, and tribal clans everywhere. Native governments were run either by hereditary dynasties or coalitions of aristocrats, merchants, and tribal leaders. About a third of the people were coming to depend on a mostly-market economy for their daily food. The rest were still producing much of their own sustenance by farming and herding. Only a small percentage of the population could read, write, and cipher. Whether they were colonies, independent nations, or some kind of half and half compromise, the Islamic world was only 10-20 percent modern. That was about to change. 9

Egypt

    After the fiasco of the 1947-48 war with Israel, the Egyptian royal dynasty was losing status and becoming even more unpopular with the people. The monarchy was part of the past, part of the colonial era. It was closely associated with the British. The Egyptian people wanted a strong new government and a program of modernization, but they were not yet ready to accomplish these things by themselves. 10

    In 1952, the Egyptian army had seen enough. The Free Officers movement took over the government and sent the king into exile. Leadership of the revolution was soon consolidated by Col. Gamal Nasser. The monarchy was ended, and aristocratic titles were abolished. The revolutionary government enacted land reform programs, literacy policies, and national development plans. There was a lot of economic planning and a lot of socialism. Housing projects were built by government agencies. Public money was channeled into heavy industry. 11

    The Russians were promoting socialism, and the Americans were promoting capitalism. Many Islamic countries did not see any reason to limit themselves to one or the other. Why not use both? Private industry was often encouraged, but sometimes it was nationalized. The Egyptian economy, like many in the Arab world, developed with both private and state owned enterprises. 12

    Nasser was an anti-imperialist ever since his teenage years. He quickly forced all British troops out of Egypt. This was done peacefully by agreeing that the civilian Suez Canal Company could continue to operate the canal and remain under British and French ownership. 13

    Nasser was becoming a nationalist hero to the entire Arab people. It was a role that he reveled in. He began sending aid and encouragement to the anti-French freedom fighters in Algeria and supported a wide variety of Arab national causes. He also joined the Nonaligned Movement with Josip Tito from Yugoslavia and Jawaharlal Nehru from India. This was a group of developing nations that refused to participate in the Cold War or join any of the communist or anti-communist alliances of the time. 14

    The Americans were not especially reassured by this declaration of neutrality. In September 1955, Nasser turned to the Soviets for a large purchase of tanks and weaponry. The United States had declined to sell weapons to Egypt because they were obviously intended for use against Israel. Nasser had also recognized the communist government of China. All of this greatly offended John Foster Dulles, the cold warrior who ran American foreign policy. He often took the attitude that if other countries were not with the U.S., then they were against the U.S. 15

Suez Incident

    Nasser was mostly pro-Egypt. He wanted to strengthen and modernize the country as quickly as possible. The Aswan High Dam had been under discussion for decades. It was designed to control the Nile, extend irrigation, and generate massive amounts of electricity. Nasser threw his full weight behind this project and sought financing and support from the United States and the World Bank. In July 1956, the Americans cancelled engineering and financial support for the Aswan dam. One week later, Egyptian troops seized the Suez Canal. 16

    The British and French were absolutely incensed at this treachery. They plotted with Israel to invade Egypt and recover the canal. This was a doomed project because the Suez passage was a series of waterways that could not possibly be kept open to merchant shipping in the face of Egyptian military opposition. The British, French, and Israelis launched their attack anyway to the surprise of the United States. 17

    The Americans were livid. Their allies had done something stupid which was denounced around the world as a return to imperialism. In 1956, the entire world was intimately familiar with imperialism, and they did not like it. The apex of world-wide imperial conquest had come just twelve years earlier at the height of World War II. Americans had fought that war in the name of defeating imperial aggression. 18

    The Nonaligned Movement was aghast at this renewed imperial effort by Britain and France and gave full support to Egypt. Emerging nations all over the planet lined up behind Egypt. The Soviets and the Chinese were delighted with this unexpected turn of events. They loudly denounced Western imperialism and proclaimed their support for Egypt. 19

    It was an impossible situation. The American president, Dwight Eisenhower, went to work behind the scenes and forced the British, French, and Israelis into a cease fire after just one week of fighting and then demanded that they return home. The British and French sheepishly withdrew. The Israelis destroyed everything in the Sinai on their way out. 20

Nationalism Triumphant

    Gamal Nasser and the Egyptians had won their gamble. They had nationalized the Suez Canal, stood up to the imperialists, and gotten away with it. The Arab world went wild. In 1956, they had a lot to celebrate. Morocco and Tunisia had negotiated their independence from France early in the year. Egypt’s victory over the imperialists came a few months later. The different Arab insurgencies and emerging nations were inspiring each other and feeding off of each other’s success. Pan-Arab nationalism became the big idea of the time. Egypt and President Nasser were the natural leaders of this movement. 21

    In 1957, most of Malaysia became independent from Great Britain. Revolutionary fervor continued to spread in the Arab world. The French-Algerian war continued as attack and retaliation reverberated back and forth between the insurgents and security forces. 22

    In 1958, a brutal military coup in Iraq ended the monarchy with the deaths of the royal family. Iraq has had one of the most violent modern transformations of any in the Islamic world. This probably has a lot to do with the traditional rule by a minority Sunni identity group over a majority Shia population. The melding of different ethnic and religious identity groups into unified nation states has often been the largest source of violent death in the modern transformation. Many parts of the world are still in the process of dealing with this extremely difficult problem. 23

    Sudan is an example of the kind of violence that centers around identity group disputes. South Sudan has recently succeeded in achieving independence from the North after more than twenty years of civil war and two million deaths. The province of Darfur has also had a very difficult experience with hundreds of thousands of casualties and refugees. Identity group conflict has shown up to a greater or lesser extent in the modern transformation of nearly all Islamic countries. 24

Syria

    Syria had been ruled by Ottoman Turks for centuries until the end of World War I. Between the wars, the French had tried to consolidate their imperial rule and began some modernization efforts. During this time, Syrian provincial leadership was still provided by local aristocrats and old-time merchant oligarchs. In rural areas, daily life had changed little in the last thousand years. There were Bedouin, subsistence farmers, peasant farmers, craftsmen, and landlords. 25

    Syria also had different ethnic and tribal communities and a number of religious sects. This was important because most people's primary loyalty was to their local community, which might be Sunni, Christian, Alawite, Druse, Kurdish, or some other identity group. The nation state of Syria was a new concept. It was going to take some time for the Syrian people to get used to it, and make it their own. 26

    From the 1930s to 1971, Syria averaged a military coup every few years by a different group of officers with a different political agenda. This was early-stage modern transformation. The Syrian people were not yet ready for democracy. In 1956, pan-Arab nationalism swept the country. In 1958, Egypt and Syria joined together to form the United Arab Republic. Nasser was the president of this new confederation, and he ran it his way. The Syrians soon tired of the experiment, cancelled the union in 1961, and went back to having regular coups. 27

    Despite the extreme political instability, there were land reform programs, education programs, and economic development policies. Change was constant but erratic. It was going to take more than one or two generations to modernize Syria. In the forty years from 1971 to 2011, the country was much more stable with just two dictators, Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar. Now, the Arab Spring has turned into full-scale civil war. 28

The Problem of Israel

    One of the biggest problems for the Arab world was Israel and what to do about it. The Jews had seized much of Palestine, cleansed the Palestinian people, and continued to bring in more immigrants to occupy the land. The Palestinians never stopped fighting back. Low level guerrilla warfare was the best they could manage, but they kept at it. 29

    The Arab nations were caught in a serious bind. The Jews expected them to prevent Palestinian militants from attacking across their borders into Israel. It was not possible for the Arab countries to comply with this demand. The Arab people are like first cousins. They speak the same language and mostly have the same religions and culture. It was not possible to expect them to sit back and watch as one of their own was destroyed by a group of infidel Europeans. It was even less realistic to expect them to cooperate with that destruction. 30

    The Americans and British are also first cousins. Suppose that in the early stage of World War II, the Germans had insisted that Americans cease all shipments of military equipment to the British. What if they further demanded that all American borders and ports must be patrolled to prevent any contraband from slipping past? The United States could not possibly have accepted such requirements. It would have meant war. The Israeli demands for the Arab countries to abandon their Palestinian cousins could not be accepted either. 31

    The Arab countries could not and would not participate in the destruction of the Palestinian nation. This meant there would have to be war. The Israelis had made that quite clear with their 1956 invasion of Sinai. Egypt and Syria turned to the Soviet Union for arms because they could not get them from the West. The Americans were totally focused on the Cold War and their anti-communist machinations. Any country that got into bed with the Soviets became an enemy in American eyes. Thus began the long downhill slide of Arab-American relations that has continued to the present day. 32

    In 1962, the Algerians won their long struggle for independence from France. The Arab-Israeli Six Day War of 1967 was a major victory for Israel and a resounding defeat for Egypt and Syria, but it did not solve the primary problem. Jewish occupation of Arab land continued to increase, and human justice for the Palestinians continued to decline. In 1969, Libyan army officers led by Muammar Gaddafi sent King Idris into exile and abolished the monarchy. In the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the Egyptians fought better and regained some of their honor, but it was still an Israeli victory. 33

Situation Report after One Generation

    By the early 1970s, a generation had passed since the Egyptian revolution of 1952. During that time, there was a huge amount of economic, political, and social change in the Islamic world. Agriculture was not yet fully modern, but peasants were much less common, except in Pakistan. Subsistence farmers and herders were rapidly decreasing. A majority of people depended on a market or semi-market economy for their daily meals. Literacy in the more advanced Islamic nations was approaching forty percent. There was still a tremendous amount of modern transformation left to do, but much of the Islamic world was graduating from the first stage to the middle stage of the process. 34

Republic versus Kingdom

    Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Algeria, Libya, and Yemen were republics and generally considered to be revolutionary, highly nationalist, socialist, and anti-Western. Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, and the Gulf States were still ruled by traditional hereditary conquest dynasties. These Kingdoms and Emirates had not had revolutions, dictators, or military coups. They were considered to be capitalist and friends of the West. 35

    In reality, most of the differences between these two groups of nations were on the surface. It was the similarities that ran deep. The most revolutionary and the most reactionary Arab nations were not that much different from each other. The traditional monarchs could not afford to be seen as old fashioned and behind the times. They too sponsored land reform, education, and industrial development. Both monarchies and republics were entering middle-stage modern transformation and oligarchic society. The elite ruling class controlled most of the wealth and power. The working class was impoverished and unhappy. 36

Conflict, Repression, and Civil War

    In the 1970s, the Islamic world was thirty to forty percent modern, but that means it was also sixty to seventy percent traditional. Nearly all of the countries were still run by autocratic rulers. Some of these leaders were kings, some were dictators, and some were presidents who were very difficult to distinguish from dictators. Nearly all of them used some amount of political repression to maintain themselves in power. Monarchs have always had dungeons and torture chambers to teach rebels a lesson. Dictators and presidents often used the same methods. 37

    Lebanon did not have a monarch, dictator, or strong president. The result was fifteen years of civil war from 1975 to 1990, about 150,000 dead, and many times that number of injuries. 38

    In a majority of developing countries, generals and other military officers have become a significant component of the oligarchic ruling class. Middle-stage modern transformation is often just as violent as the early stage. The oligarchs are clearly becoming richer, and everyone else seems to be getting poorer in comparison. Jealousy erupts. Most people feel that the world is unfair, and they are getting a raw deal. Violence breaks out on a regular basis. The army and security police are required to restore order. Generals become very important people. 39

    When there are numerous different identity groups—as in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria—the problem is often magnified. Would-be leaders appeal to various factions in an effort to gain power. At this stage of development, when factional leaders are fighting each other for political power, their followers often meet in the streets to fight it out with real weapons. Strong national leaders try to prevent this through military crackdowns, and by controlling the media and all political discussion. Would-be leaders and other troublemakers are often thrown in jail or made to disappear. There is less civil war that way. 40

    Repression in the name of stability is sometimes better than civil war, but it can lead to an even more entrenched and powerful oligarchic ruling class and even more jealousy. As has been nearly universal everywhere, the Islamic people did not like the impoverished working class existence that they were confronted with upon entering middle-stage modern transformation and oligarchic society. The question was: what to do about it? 41

The Western Model of Development

    The problem was that middle-stage modern transformation is no picnic. It was Charles Dickens oligarchic society. By the 1970s, oil money had started to appear in a big way in the Islamic world. The families that had economic or political power were prospering and showing off their wealth. They were also merging together into a fairly standard oligarchic ruling class. Most of the population had become a typical impoverished working class: with low wages, not enough education, and too few prospects for advancement. The long struggle between the working class and the oligarchic ruling class was getting under way. 42

    The Arab nations had wanted to become modern. They had established Western-style governments with executive, legislative, and judicial branches. These governments had worked hard to develop modern market economies. When there were not enough entrepreneurs and local expertise, the state helped to provide finance and support for industrial enterprise. 43

    This was the Western model of development. The result was a bad case of oligarchic society. As far as the common people were concerned, this new form of society did not seem to be working. The Islamic people knew that it would take time to become fully modern, but they wanted to hurry the process along. Maybe the Western model of development was not the best solution for the Muslim world. 44

    Revolutionary socialism was an alternative that had also been developed in Europe and used widely in China and Southeast Asia. This model was not available in the Middle East as a revolutionary ideology to use against the oligarchic governments, because they had already adopted large parts of it. The managers of state-owned socialized enterprises did not seem to be much more considerate of their workers than the capitalists. Socialism was not going to provide a way to unite the working class in opposition to the oligarchic ruling class. 45

    In some countries, extreme nationalism was used as a revolutionary force to overthrow entrenched oligarchs. That would not work in the Muslim world of the 1970s either. The governments had already co-opted nationalism as well. No one was better at waving the flag than Nasser, Gaddafi, and the other leaders who had already taken over in the 1950s and 60s. 46

Islamic Model

    In order to lead a successful revolution, you need a revolutionary ideology that can be sold to a majority of the population. A solution to the problem was available. This is the Islamic world that we are talking about. In the 1970s, they began to develop the idea of revolutionary Islam. It seemed to be a perfect fit. It was a local solution to a Middle Eastern problem. 47

    The problem was the oligarchic ruling class, including both civilian and military elites. They were too greedy, too powerful, and too corrupt. The new-fangled secular judicial system was also corrupt. It was letting the rich and powerful get away with all kinds of villainy. It was sinful. Many of the people who were most outraged by the new oligarchic society were religious conservatives. 48

    Fundamentalist Islamic theology has always existed, but in the past, it was most commonly found in the desert tribes of the Arabian Peninsula. In the last quarter of the 20th century, it exploded across the Islamic world. Many Western scholars seem to think that this is a conservative backward-looking religious movement. To me, it looks like a normal part of, and reaction to, the modern transformation that propels nation states into the modern world. 49

    The Islamist political movement that began to develop in the 1970s was extremely diverse. In many ways, it was more revolutionary than religious. Many of the rebels cared more about politics, economics, and social injustice than they did about piety, but they found it useful to wrap their revolutionary message in religious rhetoric. This was just good politics. The revolutionaries were trying to get a majority of the common people on their side. An appeal to Islamic solidarity had a better chance of working than any other strategy.  50

    In the 16th and 17th centuries, revolutionaries in western Europe used Christian fundamentalism as an important part of their modern transformations, which resulted in the extreme violence of the Protestant Reformation. In both early-modern Europe and the Islamic Middle East of today, the religious reform leaders who developed the revolutionary ideas originated from below. They came from the common people and preached their message to dissenters who were unhappy with the structure and organization of society. The Islamic world has been burning with the same revolutionary religious zealotry as early Protestant Europe. 51

Muslim Brotherhood

    The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928. They were a prototype for the hundreds of Islamist organizations that have evolved since then. In their literature, the Brothers describe a vision of the Islamic Golden Age reborn. The Caliphate will rise again. Muslims will be united under a single religious-based leadership. God’s law, Sharia, will provide peace and justice for all believers. Piety will be universal, and the land will flow with bounty for all, etc. etc. 52

    This kind of rhetoric is similar to Ronald Reagan’s “Shining City on a Hill” speech. It is designed to evoke visions of a glorious future that would include all of the best parts handed down in romantic stories from the past. This style of visionary rhetoric can be good propaganda, but it is not serious policy. Ronald Reagan had no intention of building a shining city on a hill. The Muslim Brotherhood is not going to reestablish the Caliphate either. 53

    Westerners who are concerned about a universal Islamic Caliphate do not have to worry. It was only in the first few generations of Islamic history that there was a single Caliph who ruled all of the faithful. Pan-Arab nationalism was a really big idea in the 1950s. Egypt and Syria merged to form the United Arab Republic. At first, it was thought that other Arab nations would join with them. In reality, the merger was impractical and only lasted three years. Modern economies and societies are regulated and governed by nation states, not universal Caliphates. 54

    If the Muslim Brotherhood is not there to reestablish the Caliphate, why does it exist, why is it so popular, and why have so many other groups been organized along similar lines? There is certainly a very conservative streak in the Muslim population. Change is often difficult, and it is hard to break with tradition, but this is not the primary reason for the Islamist revolutionary-political movement. 55

The Struggle Against Imperialism

     When the Muslim Brothers were formed, the Islamic world was overrun with European imperialists. Their powerful armies and navies could go almost anywhere and take almost anything, which is exactly what was happening. The Brotherhood was originally founded to oppose European imperialism and prevent Western ideas from corrupting traditional Islamic culture. 56

    At that time, in the 1920s, the Arab people could not imagine forming powerful modern nation states of their own. Instead, they fantasized about a reborn Caliphate that would sweep away the infidel European imperialists. This was an understandable dream, not a practical program. As soon as they were able, the Islamic people went to work rapidly building modern nation states. 57

    One difficulty is that foreign nations have continued to try to influence and dominate the Muslim countries, especially in the oil-rich Middle East. It is no longer imperialism. It is now thought of as great powers defending their interests in a very strategic part of the world. The Islamic people are not impressed with this distinction. For them, foreign infidels who want to control their governments and their oil are “haram” forbidden. The traditional ideology of the Muslim Brothers and similar organizations is well suited for the purpose of attacking foreign interlopers. That is one reason why it has continued in use. 58

The Oligarchic Ruling Class

    The primary reason for the explosive growth of Islamic revolution in the mid 1970s was the increasing wealth and power of the oligarchic ruling class. The price of crude oil shot up from three dollars a barrel in 1970 to forty dollars a barrel in 1980. Money was pouring into the Islamic world. The rich and powerful elite, including generals and military officers, were shoveling it into their own pockets and Swiss bank accounts. The religious-based ideas, especially the Sharia law code espoused by the Muslim Brothers, provided a perfect platform for attacking the rich and corrupt oligarchic ruling class. This is exactly what they proceeded to do. The Islamic working class supported this program. 59

    The Islamic revolutionaries probably have no idea that their attacks on the secular governments over the last two generations are part of the modern transformation which will result in democratic-market society. Nearly all participants in the modern transformation have had no idea that any such thing exists. All that is necessary is for the transition to continue either one way, or another. If the the oligarchic ruling class is too strong because it is made up of the combined officer corps of the military services and the wealthy business class, then there is a serious problem. If religious revolutionaries take on the fight to break up this oligarchic coalition, then they are part of the modern transformation, whether they know it or not. 60

    Who exactly constitutes this oligarchic ruling class? The highest-level oligarchs are the royal dynasties with their many thousands of royal princes, along with ministers, generals, and other palace favorites. Then there are all the dictators and autocratic presidents of the Arab republics, along with their families, their wives families, the top generals, and all the close associates who help them to remain in power. These republican rulers are similar in many respects to the royalty but without their traditional dynastic legitimacy. 61

    Mid-level oligarchs include all of the people who are connected closely enough to the upper strata to have their trust and be given important jobs in government and the economy. Power flows along the lines of personal and family relationships. Connections mean everything. Crony capitalism is the name of the game. Mid-level oligarchs, including military officers, have good connections, which allow them to succeed in business, government, or both. 62

    Lower-level oligarchs are usually the people responsible for security and stability in the provinces and rural districts. They often come from local families of some stature who managed to back the winning side in politics. They were rewarded with lower-level positions of power, which means that they, along with their relatives and friends, are able to succeed in small and midsized business operations. All of these different strata work together to make up the oligarchic ruling class. 63

Class War in the Arab World

    The common people in the Arab world were even more impatient with their ruling oligarchs than usual. Most of the money came from oil. The oil had been nationalized. It was the property of the state, which should mean everyone. Somehow, a small percentage of the population, who already had wealth and power, was able to accumulate most of the oil money for themselves. The common people were angry. They wanted someone to do something about this outrage. The Islamists stepped forward to take on the fight. Nobody planned it that way; it just happened. 64

    The role that was performed in Europe by socialist organizations is being played in the Muslim world by Islamist organizations. There were dozens of different kinds of socialist groups in Europe, ranging from peaceful to militant. They ran schools, clinics, welfare programs, and benevolent associations for the working class. They also did battle with monarchs and the oligarchic ruling class. There are dozens of different kinds of Islamist organizations in the Muslim world, ranging from peaceful to militant. They run schools, welfare programs, hospitals, and friendly societies for the working class. They also do battle with dictators, monarchs, and the oligarchic ruling class. The similarities are numerous. The primary difference is that the socialists in Europe were not big on religion, and the Islamists are. 65

American Response

    The United States government, with its CIA and tens of thousands of security experts, still does not understand the modern transformation. More specifically, they do not understand the oligarchic ruling class, which has been a primary feature in most developing countries during their modern transformation. Socialism and communism developed in Europe, Asia, and Latin America to do battle with the oligarchs on behalf of the working class. Americans never understood that, probably because their own oligarchs at the end of the 19th century were not dominant enough to require a violent revolutionary response.  66

    The Americans never understood revolutionary socialism in Europe, and they have not been able to understand Islamism in the Muslim world either. It is all just a normal, natural part of the modern transformation having to do with the class struggle between the common people and the oligarchic elites. 67

    Americans were surprised and dismayed by this new form of religious-based revolution. They did not like it any better than communism. The assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1981 by the Islamists after he made peace with Israel was a real shock for Washington. The American government focused on the Israeli connection, but Sadat was also under attack for the increasing corruption of his administration. When autocratic rulers began to ask the United States for assistance against the Islamist threat, the Americans were happy to oblige. 68

Counter-Revolutionary Violence by Arab Governments

    The monarchs, dictators, presidents, generals, and lesser oligarchs who ruled the Islamic world knew right away that the Islamist revolutionary movement meant trouble. They tried to placate the religious hardliners and buy them off with new mosques and official positions. This worked for some of the extremist clerics but not for others. Repression, including torture and execution, was the second line of defense. That did not work either. The mixture of religion and politics can lead to fanaticism. Many militant Islamists have gloried in their own martyrdom. Many more have stepped forward to replace their fallen heroes. The more repression was used against the Islamist threat, the faster their movement grew and the more violent their attacks became. 69

    The dictators who have been ruling much of the Arab world are a tough-as-nails bunch of guys. Many of them clawed their way up through a very turbulent and violent political process with dead bodies buried along the trail. They know that other would-be rulers are out there trying to do the same thing. The leaders who have already come to power do not want to become the dead bodies that the next generation will climb over to obtain power. In the old days, it was the toughest warriors and the sneakiest assassins who rose to the top of tribal and aristocratic society. It is a tradition that is only slowly coming to an end. 70

    The monarchs, presidents, dictators, and their minions began a major effort to stifle any kind of rebellion. Political dissidents were imprisoned or worse. This program of repression silenced nearly all opposition, except from one source. True-believers who know that God is on their side do not fear death. The militant Islamists were able to continue the battle against the dictators and the oligarchic ruling class after all other forms of opposition had been eliminated. 71

Source of the Violence

    For the last thirty years, most of the revolutionary violence in the Muslim world has come from the Islamist movement. Imams and other religious leaders have been instrumental in recruiting suicide soldiers and bomb makers. This has led the Western world to believe that the Islamic religion is the source of the violence. This looks like an open and shut case, but it is actually a misunderstanding. 72

    About a century ago, central and eastern Europe were reaching a peak period of violence and confusion in their modern transformations. In this case, it was nationalist, fascist, and communist who were organizing the violence. The result was two World Wars and a Cold War. The Muslim world is currently at a peak period of violence and confusion. In the Middle East it appears to be preachers and religious leaders who are orchestrating the violence. In both of these cases the actual source of the violence was the modern transformation and the entire population. 73

    In traditional society, might made right. Peasants and commoners were not supposed to have weapons. During the modern transformation, the old restrictions break down. Large numbers of impoverished young men search out weapons and training in the belief that it is the best way to get ahead in the world. Many of these eager young men are also looking for leadership and a cause to fight for. They are tired of being poor and powerless. They are tired of the village or small town where they grew up. They want to go out into the world and become a man of means and respect. They are willing to risk death to follow this ambition. 74

    During peak periods of the modern transformation, there are always angry young men who are eager to be recruited for violence. There are always would-be leaders with the money and guns to arm them. There are always enemies to be attacked. Who is responsible for the violence? Is it the leaders who do the recruiting and training or the young men who are looking for weapons and leadership? It is sort of like asking which comes first, the chicken or the egg. 75

The United States Enters the Quagmire

    There were many reasons why the United States was eager to jump into the cauldron of Islamic revolution. First, they wanted to increase their influence with the Arab governments and eject the Russians from as many countries as possible. Second, wealthy oligarchs were a target of the Islamist revolutionaries. These people were also business partners of the Americans, who thought of them simply as capitalist entrepreneurs. Americans have often fought to defend capitalism around the world, especially from radical bomb-throwing revolutionaries. Third, the Islamists vowed to destroy Israel, another fantasy objective of the Arabs. The Americans wanted to protect their primary ally in the Middle East. 76

    Throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s—the Americans, their CIA, and the Pentagon continued to be drawn into the Middle East. They helped to negotiate and maintain the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. They also provided technology assistance to the intelligence and security services of any countries that requested it. Some of this is public knowledge such as aid in computerizing identity cards and finger print files. Most of what was done is still classified. Helping the monarchs and dictators to destroy militant jihadist organizations did not bother the Americans at all. They never imagined that suicide bombers would eventually retaliate with major attacks against the mainland United States. 77

    The Americans have always claimed to be the champions of democracy, rule by the people. Here is an example where the common people were in rebellion against kings, dictators, and oligarchic elites. Instead of siding with the majority of common citizens, the Americans joined the battle against the Islamists on the side of the autocrats and wealthy elites without having even the slightest idea what they were getting themselves into. The CIA helped the Middle Eastern security services to imprison, torture, and execute the revolutionary religious militants without realizing that the militants had the support of the working-class population. Then the Americans wondered why the Arab Street had turned against them. 78

Islamic Revolution: Iran

    The first major success for revolutionary Islam was in Iran. The people had been trying to depose the Shah for over a generation. In the mid 1970s, the Ayatollah Khomeini launched a call for Iran to return to its religious roots and throw out the Westernized monarch and his American backers. This program of religious revolution was extremely effective. A large majority of the Iranian people came out in support. The Shah left for exile in 1979. Thousands of the wealthiest elite oligarchic families lost their positions of power. 79

    The Islamic revolution was a major advance for the modern transformation in Iran. A semi-democracy was established that managed most government functions under the oversight of a supreme religious council. After the revolution, there was much more political and economic opportunity for the common people than under the Shah. 80

    The Americans were not impressed with Islamic revolution and have remained implacable enemies of Iran to this day. During the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), the United States assisted Saddam Hussein in his efforts to defeat Iran and seize its oil rich province of Khuzestan. This assistance continued despite the Iraqi use of chemical weapons in their attacks. Iran might not be working so hard to develop nuclear technology today, if the United States, Saudi Arabia, and other countries had not helped Saddam Hussein attack their soldiers and cities with nerve gas thirty years ago. 81

Afghanistan

    The king of Afghanistan was deposed in 1973. The country has been in a very chaotic early-stage modern transformation ever since. Afghanistan was essentially a large collection of tribal warrior chiefdoms. The central government in Kabul never had much control over the numerous mountain valleys and arid plains. The country was very traditional, mostly illiterate, and had no significant source of legal income. 82

    The Afghans lived next door to the Soviet Union. The Russians seemed to have built a powerful modern nation on communism. Some Afghans imagined doing the same thing. Their communist party seized control in 1978 and began a program of extreme reform that led to open hostility between the new central government and thousands of tribal and village leaders. The brutality and insensitivity of the communist revolutionary program quickly led to an armed revolt of the very conservative tribal population. Things got ugly. Communist officials and Russians were attacked by insurgents. In 1979, a Soviet Army was sent to help the communist government defeat the rebellion. 83

    The Americans could not resist the opportunity to oppose the Russians. They provided large amounts of aid to the Afghan mujahideen. The Americans also worked to recruit and equip Arab militants, including Osama bin Laden, to help defeat communism. This was accomplished in the early 1990s. The result was a militant Islamic Afghanistan and a base of organized and trained Arab jihadists who formed al-Qaeda. 84

Osama bin Laden

    Osama bin Laden had grown up in a very rich and well connected Saudi family. He was privy to all the gossip about the sins and corruption of the Saudi oligarchic ruling class from an early age. 85

    Islamic history contains a wealth of stories about rich and powerful dynasties that fell into decay because of sloth, corruption, and the sins that money could buy. This caused all kinds of trouble, but many of these stories had a happy ending because a religious figure appeared to reform the dynasty and return the country to piety and contentment. Osama bin Laden saw himself as this type of reform leader. He joined the American anti-communist holy war in Afghanistan to fight for Islam against a heretical government, but also to gain respect and prestige at home. He envisioned that his biggest political battles would be in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world. 86

    In 1990, Saddam Hussein seized Kuwait in a surprise invasion. Many of the militant Islamists saw this as an opportunity. Osama bin Laden was riding high after his victory in Afghanistan. He pleaded with the Saudi government to be allowed to raise an army of Islamist volunteers to liberate Kuwait. Bin Laden was sure that with the military and financial backing of Saudi Arabia and air support from the Americans, he could achieve another victory. The Saudis did not even consider this proposal. They were well aware that if Osama bin Laden managed to pull this off with his own Islamic volunteer army, he might then be in a position to overthrow the Saudi royal family and take control of the country. 87

    Kuwait did not like the idea either. It worried them that after being liberated from the Iraqis, they might be annexed by Saudi Arabia or taken over by bin Laden’s Islamist movement. The Kuwaitis and the Saudis both agreed that it would be much better to invite the Americans to defeat Iraq. The United States was allowed to establish numerous military bases on the Arabian Peninsula and brought in large contingents of their army, navy, and air force. The Iraqis were quickly evicted from Kuwait. The Americans did not pursue them to Baghdad and depose Saddam Hussein. After the war, the Americans retained many of their new bases and kept attacking Iraqi forces from the air. 88

    Osama bin Laden was extremely disappointed. He had been rejected by the Arab governments who chose to rely on the Americans instead. From then on, he saw the oligarchic elites as not only corrupt but also traitors who sold out the Arab people for American gold. They had allowed infidels to establish military control over the sacred soil of the Arabian Peninsula. Bin Laden continued his struggle with the Arab governments, and also declared a blood feud with the Americans. 89

American Policy

    In the 1990s, the United States was busy fighting extremism throughout the Islamic world. It was the autocratic governments and the oligarchs who felt threatened by the Islamist movement. Americans worked with them to destroy the radical revolutionary organizations. The problem was that no matter how many of the extremists were jailed or killed, the movement continued to grow and expand. Revolutionary organizations have always had a tendency to split into factions: some of which are more moderate and others more violent. 90

    The Americans did not understand the situation. They were certain that the problem was caused by a limited number of religious fanatics. They had the data right in front of them. This organization was led by so and so and had a thousand members. That one had a few hundred disciples. This other one, which claimed credit for some recent bombing, was just a few dozen altogether. How hard could it be to defeat these crazy extremists? The Americans completely misjudged what they were up against. 91

    The Arab people had come to the conclusion that there was a conspiracy in progress. They believed that the Americans were in league with the Arab autocrats and oligarchs to control their governments, control their oil, suppress their opposition to Israel, and leave the common people with nothing. These ideas were exaggerated and only partly true, but they are typical of the paranoia that often appears during the modern transformation. After witnessing the behavior of the Americans, half of the Arab population came to believe this conspiracy theory and supported the Islamists as they turned their attacks against the United States. 92

September 11, 2001

    On September 11, 2001, Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda launched their major attack on New York and Washington. The Americans went ballistic. The media went crazy talking about the cowardly and contemptible Islamist monsters who slaughtered thousands of innocent Americans for no other reason than the glory of jihad. 93

    There was not a single minute of discussion about what the United States might have done to stir up this kind of trouble. All that the commentators were doing was making a bad situation worse. Most Americans became convinced that a small group of evil Islamists wanted to kill them, and the rest of the Arabs seemed to be cheering them on. Nothing good could come of this. 94

    The American government and the Pentagon knew they were going to go someplace and kill Arabs; the question was where? The attack had been led and carried out mostly by Saudi Arabians and Egyptians, but the Americans could not come up with a realistic plan to invade these countries. Instead they chose Afghanistan, where bin Laden was hiding, and Iraq. It was always easy to justify an attack against Saddam Hussein 95

    In both of these countries, the Americans became bogged down in civil war and identity group problems that they did not understand. This is exactly what Osama bin Laden had hoped to achieve. He knew that the more Muslims the Americans killed, the more they would be rejected by the Islamic world. 96

Iraq

    During the modern transformation, most countries have issues. Iraq had numerous serious problems. Wherever Americans see a dictator, they assume that he is responsible for all the country’s troubles. The neo-conservatives in Washington thought that all they had to do was remove Saddam Hussein, hold an election, and Iraq would develop into a modern democracy. They were wrong. The process is seldom that easy. Iraq was a powder keg. Saddam was trying to hold it together, but he was not solving any of the fundamental problems. When the Americans arrived and removed his heavy hand of repression, the country blew apart. 97

    The Sunni-Shia divide has existed in Islam ever since the first generation after the Prophet. The Sunnis have been dominant in most Muslim countries. They have regularly treated Shia communities a lot like the Americans used to treat black people. This Sunni-Shia identity group problem is something like landmines strewn around the modern transformation in the Muslim world. 98

    We have no idea to what extent this problem will turn violent again in the future. The next two decades are probably the time of greatest danger. It could become the kind of problem that gets worse before it gets better. Eventually the Sunnis and Shia will have to come to terms with each other and settle their differences. That will be a requirement for Islamic countries in order to become fully-modern democratic-market societies. 99

American Policy

    The blood feud between the United States and the Islamists is still continuing with no sign of a slow down from either party. The Americans think of themselves as the world’s only remaining superpower. They see it as their right, and indeed their duty, to police the world in an effort to reduce the worst extremes of violence and governmental oppression. The problem is that they also have interests of their own, especially in the Middle East. 100

    The Americans have some vague idea that they need to maintain a strong military presence in the Middle East to make sure nothing bad happens to all the oil. Their alliance with Israel is based partly on the Judeo-Christian Bible, partly on a common Western democratic-capitalist view of the world, and partly on the fact that it helps both countries maintain a stronger military presence. All of this makes perfect sense to the Americans. 101

The Islamist Perspective

    The Arab militants see the situation differently. The Palestinians are one of the most oppressed populations on the planet today. They are being cruelly deprived of their land and their freedom by the Israelis, with the full and complete support of the Americans. The Arabs do not see the United States as a superpower protecting right and justice around the world. They seem to be mostly protecting the Jews. 102

    The Arabs also have a problem with America’s determination to oversee the security of their oil. The oil is contained inside the pores of rock buried thousands of feet underground, where nothing bad can happen to it. Each country controls the wells, pumps, and pipelines that bring it to the surface and make it available to the markets. The highest bidder gets the oil. The Arabs welcome foreigners who come in peace to do business. When foreign infidels arrive with their armies, navies, and CIAs to “protect” the security of their oil, the Arabs see a problem. 103

    A century ago, the British imperialist in the Middle East did not want to govern Egypt and the other Arab countries directly. They just wanted to have a military presence to secure the trade route to India and maintain overall control. The Arab people did not want infidel British imperialists to have overall control of their countries. The Muslim Brothers developed Islamist ideas specifically to fight back against European occupation. In the 21st century, the Islamists do not want the United States to have overall control of their countries either. 104

The Islamist Movement and Violence

    The Muslim Brotherhood was originally founded to oppose European imperialism, and to prevent Western influences from corrupting the Arab people. The early Brothers had nothing against modernity. They encouraged their own members to become doctors and engineers. They wanted the Arab people to become strong and modern but also to retain Islamic culture and not become creatures of the imperialists. 105

    Violence played a significant role in the Muslim Brotherhood from the beginning. At the height of British imperialism in the 1920s and 30s, Egypt was a very violent place. There were secret societies by the dozen. Most of them had a nationalist agenda and were trying to assassinate British officials and members of the Egyptian royal family. Security police used any form of brutality that might help them uncover the plots and insurgencies. 106

    In 1948, the Muslim Brothers launched a violent campaign to depose the Egyptian royal family and evict their British allies. The Brotherhood was banned and repressed by the security police. Both sides engaged in a cycle of assassinations. Army officers finally removed the king in 1952. Gamal Nasser took control and followed a primarily secular and Western path of development. The Brothers were banned again. 107

    In the 1970s, there was an explosion of Islamist groups as they began to wage battle against the monarchs, dictators, and oligarchic ruling class. This work was widely appreciated and supported by the working class majority. These kinds of historical events and processes have a way of becoming complicated. Most of the mainstream Islamist organizations have engaged in political violence to some extent. There have also been many splinter groups that have contributed even more violence. 108

    Once the Islamist ideas of religious based revolution had become popular, they were adopted by all kinds of fringe organizations. When a big bandwagon really starts to roll, many different people jump on board for the ride. All modern transformations have had their share of nefarious characters who try to take advantage of the chaos and violence for one purpose or another. The Muslim world is no exception to this rule. Islamist ideas and rhetoric have been adopted by numerous petty warlords for their own reasons. Some of these militant leaders terrorize various identity groups, such as was done by the Ku Klux Klan in the United States. Others use their bomb makers and gunmen mostly for robbery, kidnapping, and extortion. This kind of confusing static is part of the background violence in all modern transformations. 109

    Some of the warlords who use Islamic rhetoric have few principles and little purpose beyond self-aggrandizement. Others are engaged in tribal, ethnic, or sectarian blood feuds. That is not a reason for indicting the entire religious revolutionary movement. The mainstream Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood are clearly an important part of the modern transformation in the Islamic world. Most of their leaders are educated professionals, who are looking forward to a better life for their children. 110

    The Arab and Iranian people see a great deal of similarity between the British and French imperialists a century ago and the Americans today. The Islamists are still there and still fighting against kings, dictators, corrupt oligarchs, and domination by foreign infidels. The blood feud between the Islamists and the Americans is a long way from being over. 111

Arab Spring

    The modern transformation in the Islamic Middle East is not waiting around for the outcome. It still has a lot of work to do. In December 2010, the Arab Spring began in Tunisia and quickly spread to Egypt and the rest of the Arab world. 112

    A new generation that was born after 1970 has been heard from. These are the first Arabs to grow up in a world that was becoming more modern than traditional. It is also a larger and better educated generation than any of its predecessors. The modern transformation takes time. Much of the progress is made as new generations mature and begin to influence society. Something similar happened in the West when the post-war "baby boom" generation began to come of age in the 1960s and 70s. 113

    The younger Arabs in their 20s and 30s are tired of the old fashioned monarchs and dictators. This is the first time that large numbers of middle-class and working-class students are graduating from college. They want change. They want more freedom and better jobs, and they are willing to go out and risk their lives to obtain these things. They are also not locked into the extremist mindset that reached its peak a decade earlier. 114

    One problem is that twenty and thirty year olds cannot establish and run a government all by themselves. They started the Arab Spring, but it was only when the Muslim Brothers, labor unions, and huge numbers of common citizens showed up at the demonstrations that dictators began to fall. If democratic governments are going to be successful, they will continue to need the support of all of these people. 115

    Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya are presently trying to write new constitutions and set up elected governments, which will actually rule the country. It is extremely challenging to do this for the first time. There will be problems, factions, and disagreements. The Arab countries have a large number of difficult issues to solve. If the new governments patiently go about the process of finding workable compromises and solutions, their authority will develop successfully. If they get bogged down in power struggles between economic classes or in arguments about Israel, religion, and who gets which office, there will be serious problems. The countries that fail to establish successful elected government will just have to try again at a later time. 116

Future of the Islamic Revolution

    In the Egyptian elections of 2012, most of the votes went to Islamist candidates. This was a major disappointment in the West where it is generally believed that Islamists want to return to medieval society. I do not claim to have the inside track on what the Egyptian Brotherhood or the Salafist parties are thinking, but one thing is certain. The modern transformation in Egypt and the Islamic world is accelerating; there is no possibility of going back to medieval society. 117

    The Arab Spring was begun by disappointed young people who have an education but very few employment opportunities. This is one of the first problems that needs to be solved. Many developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America have become successful at getting modern business and industry up and running. The Arab world has fallen behind in this regard. Aside from oil and gas production, the market economy has not yet been able to achieve takeoff. 118

    The Egyptian people need jobs, and there is plenty of work that needs to be done, but the magic of the markets is just not happening. Crony capitalism, poor regulation, and a corrupt judicial system are a large part of the problem. The Middle East is awash in money. Egypt is the largest, best educated, and most stable of the Arab countries. It should be, and some day will be, a land of economic opportunity. Right now, job creation is being held back because the government has not yet been able to provide the legal and physical infrastructure needed by the market economy. 119

    Developing a successful modern economy is a long and complicated process. It required most of the 20th century for the world to learn for certain that communism could not do it. Still, it was an experiment that had to be tried and a lesson that had to be learned. The new governments in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya will need to take measures to open up their economies to all citizens. Free enterprise and economic opportunity do not just happen. They require effective government regulation and enforcement. If this is done successfully, there will be an economic boom in the Arab world. 120

Family and Religious Issues

    The election of governments does not mean that the modern transformation is over. There are still ethnic and sectarian identity issues that will take time to resolve. More education and economic development are required. There will also be changes in both religious and family institutions. These will become more modern and less restrictive. 121

    It is easy to understand that a lot of men might say: “You can change the government, and you can change the economy, but if you mess with my family, there will be trouble.” This is a very normal human reaction. Women’s roles and family relationships are already changing in the Islamic world. It is part of going from traditional to modern society. These kinds of changes take time. 122

Identity Group Problems: Sunni and Shia

    There are two major problems with the modern transformation that no Islamic country will be able to solve on its own. The Sunni-Shia sectarian divide is as large as the entire Muslim world. It goes back thirteen hundred years in history and is so convoluted and endemic to Islamic society that few Westerners have any chance of fully understanding it. 123

    Identity-group problems tend to be the most violent part of the modern transformation. The Holocaust of the Jews was an identity group issue. The destruction of the Armenians in Turkey, the brutally violent breakup of Yugoslavia, the Hutu and Tutsis in Rwanda, and the cleansing of the American First Nations were all identity-group problems. Clearly, it is easy for this kind of violence to get totally out of control. 124

    Violence between Sunni and Shia identity groups has been increasing for the last generation. It has already led to half a million fatalities in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria. Bombings and brutality are happening across the Islamic world. In the Persian Gulf region, really serious Sunni-Shia problems have been kept hidden by repression, while they soak in large pools of crude oil. This is a recipe for disaster if there ever was one. When violence erupts, it is usually the innocent bystanders who are in the greatest danger. 125

     Iran is the largest and most powerful, predominantly Shia nation. Its post-revolution Islamic government has tried to act as a champion for oppressed Shia communities everywhere. This effort has caused increasing tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia. There has been no attempt by anyone to solve the problems or reduce the tension. The United Nations does not seem to be doing anything to alleviate or even analyze this extremely difficult Sunni-Shia identity group issue. 126

Israel and Palestinians

    What to do about Israel is another problem that the newly-elected Arab governments will not be able to solve by themselves. The plight of the Palestinians is still an open sore for the entire Islamic world, especially the Arabs. The Palestinians need a homeland of their own just as much as the Jews do. It is nonsense to say: “Let them go live in the Jordanian desert,” or “they can live in Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon with the other Arabs.” This is not a solution. The last thing any of the Arab countries need is another quarrelsome identity group that has its own loyalty and agenda. 127

    The Israeli-Palestinian problem is a direct result of World War II and the Holocaust. That was seventy years ago. The conflict has been eating away at the Middle East for this entire period of time. It has caused a huge and ongoing amount of disruption. It has made all of the other problems that are a normal and natural part of the modern transformation much more difficult. 128

    It is not right for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to continue endlessly under the present circumstances. The Arab countries are already going to have a difficult time establishing successful democratic governments. Voters will want to elect strong decisive leaders. Under the present circumstances, no Arab politician will want to run on a platform of friendship with Israel. The Arab-Israeli conflict may be on the verge of becoming much more complicated. This would not be a good thing. 129

    The finest birthday present the rest of the world could possibly give to the new Arab governments would be a successful, permanent solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It would also be the finest gift that the Americans and Israelis could give to each other and to themselves. 130

    To send the Palestinians off to wander in the wilderness is not a solution. For the last decade, some people have been talking about a unitary state made up of Jews and Palestinians. This does not seem to be workable either. The two identity groups do not like each other and often go about killing each other. Having them live together is unlikely to be a successful permanent solution to the problem. 131

Define the Borders

    Robert Frost wrote: “Good fences make good neighbors.” This idea has worked in other places. With some effort from both parties, it should succeed here. Ever since the conflict began, there has been talk of a two-state solution. This idea did not and probably could not have worked in the first few decades after the creation of Israel. The wounds were too raw, and the animosity was too great. 132

    The problems have festered since then, but the two sides have also had time to adjust. The new reality is that Israel is a fact, and it is not going anywhere. Also, the Palestinians are a nation. They are not going to dissipate, and they need a homeland. The two-state solution seems to be the only idea that offers a feasible permanent resolution of the problem. 133

    The Palestinians have been trying to negotiate acceptable borders for two separate countries. The Jews have so far refused to take these negotiations seriously. They have never offered the Palestinians anything that even remotely resembles a workable sovereign nation state. The United States has enabled this obstructionism by maintaining full support for Israel despite its refusal to negotiate in good faith. It is long past time for this charade to end. Since no one else has offered a map showing a permanent two-state solution to the conflict, I have taken the liberty of drawing up a possible example. 134

 

 

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