Post-Pan-Arabism, Or Not?


On April 18, I argued that the conclusion to the Iraq war had stupefied those whose view of the world was shaped by Pan-Arabism, and had thus given long-stifled Arab liberals have an opportunity to mount a serious challenge to a failed and inadequate outlook. Such liberals, I wrote, had already started offering a competing narrative.

Contributing editor Michael Young, however, had his doubts about the future of such a project, and responded on his beirut calling blog. "That would be great news," he said about the thesis in his April 19 entry (his permalinks aren't working). "The only problem is that the Arab world tends to respond to its defeats not by opening up but by closing down and falling back on the old ways–no matter how discredited they may be." He cited some examples to back up his case.

Now Michael has offered to host a discussion of the issue on his site. This will be a pretty assymetrical exchange, given that he's actually in the Middle East and that he knows what he's talking about. The first exchange is up today. Interested readers can click on the link above. Keep scrolling to find a wealth of insight from Michael about events in the region, whether on his blog, in his Beirut Daily Star columns, or his Mideast press wrap-ups for Slate.

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  1. Nope, not me. I just lurk now, read the comments occasionally. Why would you think it was me? Haven’t read any books on Zakaria, is he a fellow machiavellian? Back to lurking…

  2. This is hardly the first Arab defeat, why should this one be any different in regard to its effect on Arab views? As for pictures of happy Iraqis, there’s plenty of pictures of unhappy Iraqis, too. We could argue all day about which is more representative without having much in the factual department to rely on, but as long as those unhappy pictures are there in no short supply, there’s at least as much fodder for the Panarabists than for the Arab liberals.

  3. Hey Laz – Nice hearing from you.
    Zakaria is a conservative realist of the Robert Kaplan variety, more or less. I have not read anything much by him, other than a few of his articles in newsweek, but he’s been in the news lately. He believes a liberal polity should be established ahead of formal polls, approves of benevolent dictators such as Musharraf, King abdullah etc.

  4. Fareed Zakaria-isn’t he the “cute” one? I know Fouad Ajami is the “shy” one and Bernard Lewis is the “deep” one. But who’s the “funny” one?

  5. all you need is three! simon, theodore & alvin đŸ˜€

  6. That would be Edward Said…

  7. As Fareed Zakaria has pointed out this is a war on Arab failure. They have either of two stark choices and we’re making it really easy for them to understand. Grow up or get out, comprende? It’s that simple. Cuz we’ll do it for you if need be. We’ve already proven it with Iraq. Now come get some.

  8. That sounds like Lazarus Long. C’mon Laz – own up. Dont post anonymously. On the other hand it’s unlikely tha Laz would quote Zakaria.

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