Friday, August 11, 2006

Does "divide and conquer" always work? et. al.

While working on a longer piece, tentatively titled, King Canute on the spiritual shore, I thought to keep the daily blog entry thing going with a few brief notions to ponder.

Firstly, I assume some (most, all) of you are familiar with the strategy of divide and conquer. The theory goes that you divide your enemy and he fights himself more than he fights you.

This theory leads some to draw comfort from the ongoing split between Sunnis and Shi'ites. So long as they fight each other, the theory goes, they won't be strong enough to fight the West.

Yet, the history of Western Civilization gives us a counter to that theory. The expansion of Western Civ, both vs. the Islamic Ottoman Empire and around the world occurred while the Protestant Reformation and Counter Reformation was occurring. Perhaps religious debate taken seriously is a sign of intellectual vigor in a culture, not a sign of weakness.

Secondly, in response to the Terror Plot, I wonder what the world would be like, if, instead of invading Iraq, the US and UK had directed those funds ($100s of Billions at this point) towards rebuilding Afghanistan as was done with Germany and Japan after WWII. Would Nasrallah's and bin Laden's words fit as easily in people's minds?

I wonder, in that case, if these supposedly Pakistani and other South Asian youths would have been plotting?

It seems to me that a few hundred billion spent building hospitals, roads and schools would sway far more hearts and minds in the West's favor than blowing up the same. If genecide isn't an option, (and I hope it isn't) then eventually we will have to get along.

The "beat them until they submit" policy doesn't seem to be generating much in the way of positive results.

I just hope we haven't waited too long to show another face. The father who beats his son for 5 years may find that a compensating car and credit card at 16 still leaves him with a hateful child.

On a lighter note, or at least a look at tragedy through a comic lens check out this You-Tube of a recent Daily Show: one joke: every day the cafes and shops of the Middle East literally explode with excitement at the idea of a new Middle East.