From the Jerusalem Post (sorry, no link available) Barry Rubin tells us all we need to know about why the Middle East is so screwed up. To solve the problem and defeat terrorism and radical Islam forever, we must first understand what's going on. So here are the problems: "Failed dictatorships: The region is run by dictatorial regimes that are incompetent at doing anything but staying in power. Their citizens lack human, civil, and democratic rights. Their foreign policies lead to disaster and defeat; their economic policies bring stagnation and low living standards. Failed ideologies: The dominant ideology for these regimes is Arab nationalism; for oppositions and for Iran, radical Islamism. These ideas don’t fulfill their promises and make things worse. Yet they are maintained through demagoguery and lies, plus a near-monopoly over institutions. The elites’ self-interest: Since much of the political, economic, and intellectual elites benefit from this system, they passionately support it. Keeping this structure in power is vital to retaining not only their privileges but perhaps their very lives. For the masses, indoctrination over many years plus traditionalism, repression, and fear of an Islamist regime or anarchy as the most likely alternatives are powerful inducements to stand by their dictator. The successful use of scapegoats: A critical element in the system’s ability to convince the people that their real enemies are the US, Israel, and the West in general (along with modernization, democratization, globalism, Westernization, etc). One should either support the dictatorship as a pious and patriotic action against satanic forces or join the opposition, which promises to fight them better. Thus, even moderate regimes, needing anti-Americanism and the Arab-Israeli conflict in order to survive, promote them in their propaganda and behavior. THE REAL origins of terrorism: The failure of Islamists to take over Arab countries in the quarter-century following Iran’s Islamist revolution convinced some radicals in each country that a new strategy was needed. They thus went from the idea of trying to seize power in one state at a time to the global Jihadist movement. Rather than fight Arab nationalist ideology they would steal its program, concluding that murdering Jews and Christians would be more popular than killing fellow Muslims. The regimes collaborated in this process by going easy on the movement — and even reinforcing the ideology — as long as the violence was being perpetrated on someone else. Refusal to end the Arab-Israeli conflict: When offered serious proposals for peace in 2000 (at Camp David and in the Clinton plan), Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat rejected them because his goal is: a) keep the conflict going until final total victory is achieved in eliminating Israel; or b) accept only an agreement easy to use for launching another round to achieve that result. Syria rejected the entire Golan Heights’ return. However strange it might seem, Arab regimes and elites want to sustain a conflict they need in order to preserve themselves. Israel: Israel is a victim and not the cause of this situation. It is ready for a real peace based on a Palestinian state and an end to violence, suffering now from the risks it has taken in this effort. The United States: The US is truly trying to help the region because it believes that to do so is not only right but also in its own self-interest. Whatever mistakes they make, the US and Israel are democratic countries trying to cope with extraordinarily difficult situations using far more restraint and conscience than anyone else would have in these circumstances. As in World War II and the Cold War, their adversaries are far worse, nefarious forces who employ the most misleading propaganda to portray them as evil. Those in the West who buy these lies are fools."