A Necessary Mea Culpa

Arab League conference, 1964.
Arab League conference, 1964.

Authoritarianism, sectarianism, corruption, cronyism, lack of interest in developing our societies, beyond the introduction of certain consumerist façades, these things existed long before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The U.S. invasion of Iraq merely removed a lid on all this. I am not saying no major fuckups were made during the invasion and ensuing occupation, for there were plenty. Still, the idea that we were better off somehow before is a lie we tell ourselves, and others, so that we can continue shirking responsibility for who we are and what we are doing to each other.

We keep blaming the UK and France for the current borders, but, the truth is, we willingly kept them for all these decades. The political and socioeconomic elites seem to have benefited too much from their existence to allow for change to take place. Indeed, despite their verbal assurances, and the slogans that they conjured, they didn’t really give much a damn about public interest and what was good for the nation they claimed to believe in, be it the Arabic Nation, or the Islamic one.

Our problem is that we still have not embraced the spirit of modernity yet, just her façades, and we continue to blame others for our intrinsic problems, including the West, America, and, of course, Israel.

But we are not slaves. Our grandfathers’ generation fought for independence and won it, then, they proceeded to squander all the opportunities that our independence brought because they failed, and we after them, to shoulder the responsibilities that came with it.

Yes, the two fighting camps in the Cold War didn’t make things easy for us, but, so what? Was life ever meant to be easy? Did we make thing easy for others, when we were the center of the world? I don’t exonerate the U.S., or the West in general, but neither do I exonerate us. But since it’s our fate that’s on the line, it’s mainly our responsibility to do something about improving our lot in the world.

This is speaking in general terms of course. In reality, there is no “we.” That has been the main problem confronting us since the late 19th Century. We still haven’t figured out who we are as peoples yet, and what our place in the modern world is or should be.

The responsibility of the intellectual, political, religious and socioeconomic elite for this situation is immense. We have continuously let our people down, and we do bear much of the blame for what is happening today. I do not exclude myself here, especially in regard to current development s in Syria, where the opposition failed to provide the right caliber leadership. It is time we owned up to our failures and assumed the moral responsibility for the consequences, instead of pointing our figures at the powers-that-be in the world, powers who, by the very nature of their position, and the very nature of human politics, cannot be more concerned with our wellbeing than we are.

The average men and women can compensate with their sacrifices for many things, but not for the lack of guiding vision, and moral leadership. That’s our job, and so far we have performed poorly.