Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Permanent Muslim Civil War

What the misreading of the Arab Spring as a revolutionary wave of democracy, rather than an explosion of existing tensions and longstanding civil wars, points to most is how thoroughly the 21st century Middle East expert has unlearned everything that his 19th century predecessor knew about the Muslim world.

The 19th century expert understood the Muslim world as essentially unchanging, seething with revolts and dynastic struggles, but still shackled to the chains of its cultural and moral limitations. But the 21st century expert insists on a progressive version of history, in which humanity is always moving upward. Where each event, good or bad, is a phase in historical development.

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