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.