I have to admit, that I was pleasantly surprised at the high rate of voting in the recent Iraq elections. Even a cynic such as myself watched as a high number of Iraqi citizens lined up under threat of death and cast their vote for the future of the country. This was historic. History will decide whether is was worth the cost of over 100’000 Iraqi lives. While I do not delude myself that this event will deter violence, it does give Iraqis a stake in their country. It does another thing as well; it shifts the focus of insurgent attacks from American forces to Iraqi aspirations. The battle shifts from opposing armed groups to one of conflicting ideologies within a society. Hope, values and ethics will eventually prevail.
The war of terrorism will not be won on the battlefield. The number of fighters in search of jihad seem to be multiplying. War is a rallying cry that feeds into the martyr mentality that has been ingrained into these young men. The only way to tackle this growing problem is education and challenging them on their home territory: Islam. When confronted with the entire history of Islamic civilisation they can only see their ideology as bankrupt. Here is an interesting article by James Brandon writing in the Christian Science Monitor about how a judge and Islamic scholars in Yemen are challenging these young men on their turf.
Speaking with my friends in the Middle East, the consensus is that consumerism is the way to go. Beyond social development and education, giving citizens an economic stake in the stability of their country will lead to the end of fanaticism. I brought up the situation of the Gulf Arabs who are massive consumers. I was told that while they consume, [casinos, material goods, alchohol, prostitutes, Rolexs, ect.] their spending power is outside of their countries as most things are forbidden at home.
Saw a documentary on the Saudis the other day on Frontline. All of the mullahs that were interviewed had this dead look in their eyes. I have seen this look a lot in the eyes of militants and radical imams. Its as if all beauty and life has been sucked out of them. They cannot be detered by threat of death. They are already dead.