No, I don't want to call you Americans or Westerners, I want to call you Arabs, but I look forward to change in the Arab world which will make you proud again of being called Arabs. Voltaire hated the rule of the franch kings Louis XV and Louis XVI but he never asked not to be called french, he undertook to change France. Descartes spent years at the court of the queen of Sweeden, Diderot at the court of Russia, and Voltaire at the court of Prussia, building a network of so called "despotes éclairés" (enlightened despots, sorry they were speaking french in those old days) It changed the whole Europe, but it took a century, even a bit more. What bothers me is not the lack of rapid progress in social and political set up in the Arab world but the lack of intelectual production (or the lack of its circulation) that would lay the foundation for future progress. What we (and even some english scholars) call "le siècle des lumières" (the century of enlightment) has laid down foundation for a century of revolutions in France (1789, 1830, 1848, 1871) and throughout Europe, which would not have happen if Voltaire, Diderot and Rousseau had turned their back to France (actually, Rousseau was not french, he was from Geneva which was a self-governing city-state pressured between two powerful kingdon of the time trying to swallow it: France and Austria, a little bit like Kuwait today)
The problem of Gaza/Palestine/Israel is a major threat to the world peace. It is the last remain of the colonial era. Demography will eventually prevail. It will be an agony, but there is no example of a colonial creation survive for ever.
But for the future of the Arab world, it is not as crucial as the scarcity of creative thoughts: the only books I can find are either inspired by marxist philosophy which has proved to lead to bankrupcy or inspired by religion which is hardly a guarantee of progress. All those who contributed to establish today's democratic societies, the french philosophers above, but think also of Patrick Henry or Thomas Jeffeson, got into trouble with the religious authorities of their time and places. Tell me of more creative writers and books dealing with the social and political future of the Arab world.
It's only in 1905 that the french government finaly took the step to sever its links with the catholic church. And still in the 20th century, the catholic chuch thought it had to take side in national debate on women's vote, birth control, how to prevent AIDS, divorce, etc... Can you imagine that when I married (19666 not in 19th century) my wife could not open a bank account without my authorization!!!
There is a lot to do in the arab world and only Arabs can do it. Don't let it to the Moslem Brotherhood. Your blog is an excellent start. Sorry I missed this entry when you published it.