Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Bottom of the List

The Economist has rated Middle Eastern nations on a 15 point scale as to how much freedom they have. It is interesting that the three on the bottom of the list, Libya, Syria and Saudi Arabia are also the three that have the greatest threat to the security of western nations. Iran is 5th worst.

But what is actually strange to me (as opposed to sarcastically strange) is that some of the nations that are doing well economically are still poor in the freedom rating. I suspect that it is more due to the fact that prosperity brings freedom where as freedom does not always bring prosperity. I have been told that nations tend to become democratic when greater than 50% of the population has been literate for more than a generation. I think a good case can be made that the prosperity has occurred so rapidly in some of these countries that it has yet to translate into political freedom just as in China.

Maybe the west should take a page out of the radical Wahhabi book and fund schools across the Middle East. They would need to be non Christian (Bush et all might cringe) but teach real education instead of memorization of holy books and how to build a pipe bomb. It might even embarrass the governments in the Middle East to spend more on their education systems than on their militaries. It might also embarrass western nations to spend more on education than on their militaries. Until the chambers of commerce of the world realize that funding education is in their own interests it will be up to the government to pick up the slack and they have been doing a pretty poor job up until now.

No education = no freedom and no freedom = no peace. Yes, many of those involved in terrorism in the Middle east are middle class and "educated". But their views and beliefs are derived from the culture of and sympathy with the poorest and uneducated.

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