You’ll read lots of comment regarding the current upheavals going on in what I prefer to term as “2nd World Islamic” nations. These are not the nations that are still ruled by tribalists claiming direct ascendancy from the third cousin of the prophet but those who have been dipping their toes into democracy or dabbling with western values for the last 50 years. Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon and North African states, all having thrown off Islamism for either direct military rule, dictatorships or in some cases, democracy.
How did they make the jump? Well, certainly colonialism played a fair part. Even after you’ve chucked out your oppressors, it’s very hard to stop doing with them or buying spare parts for the aircraft and motor cars they left behind. Post colonial Arabia whilst happy to return to beheadings has very much decided that a Mercedes is better than any camel and mobile phones are preferable to verses of the Koran repeated ad hominum. 113% of Egyptians now own a mobile phone and like us, are connected instantly to social media, news, porn, shopping channels, politics and the world – is it really likely they are to return to the puritanical medieval Islam so beloved of the 3rd world Islamist states?
Any religion of obsessives will deny technological progress. From 17th Century Amish to the Wahabe tribes of Saudi or the war lords of Afghanistan, all are having a hell of a time persuading their followers that the righteous path and route to heaven is blocked by technology, so they resort to violence and witch / book burning. What we are witnessing today is hardly a precedent of how peoples react to freedom to think and act as an individual. From our own Luddites who attempted to destroy any machine that could replace them, to the Immans of Yemeni who demand the execution of anyone found living outside of the 14th Century, the major roadblock to total and utter obedience has and will continue to be technological progress. Explaining how your prophets and messiahs suffered has no bearing on the freedom to watch TV, chat with your mates on Facebook or educate yourself via the Internet.
We don’t need to be arming rebels, or selling regimes more guns and bombs to kill their people. All we need to do to destroy authoritarian regimes is apply popular technology. Soviets eventually became sick of driving Ladas and Trabbants whilst their neighbours blasted down the autobahns in shiny Porsches. Turks, now used to drinking a quiet beer with their girlfriends whilst browsing their Twitter pages were not going to be told that all they are enjoying is “haram” by a religious Authoritarian who assumed just because he was voted into office could treat it as his own Feifdom.
If you want to defeat the Jihadists, give them what we have. Freedom of choice and an individual voice. Bombard them with cheap reliable, well-built cars, designed for women and soon enough, women will bombard their Political and religious masters for the right to drive them. Spread the options of free press and citizen journalism and they will soon reject daily diktats from Party HQ. We don’t have to wage war on them, we have to show them what they’re missing – sending drones to bomb them back into the 14th century is not the answer, building an Asda that opens at the same time as a mosque will do to their organised religion exactly what it did to ours, empty it.
So there’s your answer. If you want an end to Islamism, send in Capitalism. China wised up pretty quick, so will the Middle East. See if Iranians keep “voting” for mad Mullahs when they know they’ll lose access to the shopping channel or spare parts for the washing machine. Drop the sanctions, stop trying to control them and let their people decide – just make sure we show them the advantages of not living in a tent in the desert first. Trust me, the people will do the rest.