Recent events in Mali and Libya, not to mention Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Pakistan, Bengla Desh, Somalia, and several other pleasure spots remind us — if such a reminder were necessary — that the Islamic world is, to put it mildly, not a fun place to be. According to religionofpeace.com, Islamic terrorists have accounted for 20,261 deadly terror attacks since 9/11. Just this random Thursday, January 17, the website reports the following:
2013.01.17 (Hillah, Iraq) – al-Qaeda detonate a car bomb outside a soccer stadium in a Shia neighborhood, killing at least seven. 2013.01.17 (Dujail, Iraq) – Eleven Shia pilgrims are sent to Allah by dedicated Sunni car bombers. 2013.01.17 (Garissa, Kenya) – Religious extremists burst into a restaurant and gun down five patrons. 2013.01.17 (Narathiwat, Thailand) – Islamic ‘insurgents’ murder a school truck driver in front of seven children. 2013.01.17 (Pattani, Thailand) – A 78-year-old farmer is shot to death in a bath tub by Muslim terrorists. 2013.01.16 (Idlib, Syria) – al-Nusra suicide bombers massacre two dozen Syrians in an urban area.
Now it’s undeniable that back in the twentieth century, Germany, the Soviet Union and China were yet bigger killing machines, but in our time the Islamic world is the problem.
Some say the reasons for this are complex, but I think they’re relatively simple — the mix of plentiful oil and the Islamic religion provides a lethal cocktail. Oil makes it economically unnecessary for that backward region to advance into the modern world and Islam gives it an ideological excuse for not advancing. (Yes, I know some of those countries have no oil, but they were supported, or at least propped up, by those that did.) So a giant portion of our globe — from North Africa into the Horn of Africa, up through the Arab world and into Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan — remains a largely Islamic tribal culture, contributing almost nothing to civilization while continually threatening to destroy it.
Our government has denied much of this (even, amazingly, hiding the provenance of the Ft. Hood massacre when the perpetrator yelled “Allahu Akhbar”) for reasons that are both “politically correct” and supposedly strategic (realpolitik). With the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (led, ironically, by a racist graduate of USC), the ongoing madness in Syria and the exploding mayhem in North Africa, this approach now seems ridiculous. It has succeeded at nothing.
So what can we do? I was one of those optimists who thought intervention in Iraq might be the cure — that we could bring democracy to that part of the world by a (hopefully judicious) use of force. The results so far are at best mixed. In fact, even a cursory look at the map tells us they are considerably worse than that.
It’s time to try a different approach. We could give it the euphemism “tough love” but what it amounts to is cutting off or rapidly phasing out foreign aid to countries like Egypt. Let them see what it’s like to have to support themselves like adult nations do. David Goldman has written several times on this site that they are on their way to becoming a failed state. Well, bring it on. Across that region, other than Israel, they’re all failed states to one degree or another. There is no way to go but up. When forced to make serious decisions, who knows… maybe a few people will grow up.
Meanwhile, we should do everything we can to encourage our own energy independence that is already well under way via fracking. It’s worth noting that recent fatal kidnapping violence occurred at a “remote desert gas plant” in Algeria where foreigners, including Americans, were working. What kind of a life is that? Who would want to be there when they could be back in Ohio or Pennsylvania pulling our own home grown energy out of the ground?
Not only might fracking save the U.S. economy, it might also force a new maturity on the Islamic world by making its people face reality. It also would deny nations like Saudi Arabia (our embarrassingly reactionary friends) and Iran and Venezuela (our even more reactionary enemies) the means to threaten others while oppressing their own people.
I know that sounds, if anything, more optimistic than an old neoconservative claim that an Iraq invasion would build a new Middle East, but we don’t have many other choices — other than bombing what remains of their culture into oblivion. The message of Mali should be clear: more fracking, please.
Apropos of which, two films about fracking have been released recently. I have seen neither of them, one (FrackNation, a pro-fracking documentary I understand is quite good) because I have not had the opportunity yet and the other (Promised Land, an anti-fracking Hollywood feature starring Matt Damon) because I have no intention of wasting my time watching it, although a free Academy screener of Promised Land sits about five feet away from me as I type this. Mr. Damon should be ashamed of himself for creating such uber-conventional, fuddy-duddy, bourgeois eco-twaddle. He deserves nothing more than all-expense paid trip to Mali — on Al Gore’s private jet.