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Monday, July 27, 2009

# Posted 12:07 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

I ASSURE YOU, EVERYTHING IS JUST FINE IN THE MIDDLE EAST: Tom Friedman, Sunday morning:
I can comfortably report the following: The bad guys are losing.

Yes, the dominos you see falling in the Muslim world today are the extremist Islamist groups and governments. They have failed to persuade people by either their arguments or their performances in power that their puritanical versions of Islam are the answer.
As Dick Cheney might have said, the extremists are just "dead-enders". What we are seeing today in the Middle East is just "the last throes" of Islamic radicalism.

On the other hand, Friedman does hedge his optimism by writing,
Having lost the argument, though, the radicals still hang on thanks to gun barrels and oil barrels — and they can for a while.
One it tempted to ask, if one has the guns and the oil, what else does one need to stay on top in the Middle East?

Now, I don't want to discount the good things that have happened recently in the Middle East. But the regime still has the guns and the oil in Iran. Moderates won the recent election in Lebanon, but Hezbollah still has the guns. In Afghanistan, the Taliban are outgunned, but they have killed more US and NATO troops this month than in any month previously. In Pakistan, the government is showing more determination, but the Taliban remain extremely dangerous.

At least until recently, one of the lessons of the Bush era was not to be naively optimistic about the future of the Middle East. In 2003, I wasn't able to imagine what a real worst case scenario would look like in Iraq. For a guy who's been covering the region for 30 years, Friedman sure is an optimist.

Cross-posted at Conventional Folly
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