Preparation for the Cold War?

Clay Shirky clay@shirky.com
Fri, 12 Oct 2001 10:22:47 -0400 (EDT)


In the current conflict, few countries in the Islamic world are more
than lukewarm allies, for several reasons. Some of these reasons are
fairly tactical -- they don't want to make themselves targets for
terrorism, they don't want to encourage radical Islam within their
borders, they don't want to forgo their right to criticize Israel, and
so on. Another reason they are not our allies is that they mostly are
not free markets and not democracies, and the current leadership in
those countries will only hang on to power so long as they don't
become free markets or democracies.

This makes the choice between coming down on the side of a secular
democracy or a theologically justified oligarchy in the current
struggle a no-win situation. The rulers of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and
Jordan and Pakistan want the power that comes with autocracy and the
benefits that come from democracy.

What if this is the new Cold War? What if this struggle won't end
until the Islamic world is largely democratic?  And what would you
start doing today if you knew it would take 50 years to get there?

-clay