All of them board the train. The men take their respective seats but all three women cram into a restroom and close the door behind them. Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets. He knocks on the restroom door and says, “Ticket, please.” The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on.
“Nation building” seems to have fallen into disrepute in the West, but it should not. It is vitally important — as the successes of Germany, Japan and South Korea attest.
Over the past few years, in our foolishness, we in the Middle East swallowed the deceptive bait of “democracy” dangled before us, even though we knew that it could not, in the misguided way it was presented, be implemented in the Middle East.
The idea was superb, but here in the Middle East, possibly in being impatient to “get credit” before the diplomats’ term of office were over, no one ever took the time to establish the institutions of democracy — equal justice under law, freedom of speech, property rights, the primacy of the individual rather than the collective, separation of religion and state — to show us in the Middle East how democracy actually operates, and to allow those institutions to take root before ever holding an election.
So eager were Western leaders to take credit right away that they refused “let the rice bake.” Had the West introduced democratic elections to Japan and South Korea (where they eventually worked brilliantly) in the same way it muscled democracy into Iraq, it would never have taken root in those countries either. Had the Germans had been asked to vote right after World War II, they would most likely have reelected the Nazis — that was what they knew. It took seven years to re-educate the public to understand and accept a Konrad Adenauer.
For the past year, the attention of policymakers and pundits following the Middle East has been absorbed with the twin problems of Iran’s nuclear program and the Islamic State. At the same time, however, another threat emanating from the region has quietly metastasized with potentially significant repercussions for America and its allies. Consider that since June 1:
• The U.S. Army’s public website was taken offline due to a Distributed Denial of Service attack by Syrian hackers;
• Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon publicly confirmed that Hezbollah was behind a “Volatile Cedar,” a three-year cyber-spying campaign targeting Israel, Western countries, and other Middle Eastern states;
• WikiLeaks published 70,000 documents from the Saudi Foreign Ministry believed to have been among a half million documents stolen by Iranian hackers; and
• A group of hackers claiming affiliation with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) took down the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ website and threatened its director.
Even President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s critics, including this author, praised him when, after 40,000 lives lost in a bloody conflict, he (as then prime minister) bravely launched a difficult process that would finally bring peace to a country that suffered much from ethnic strife. His government would negotiate peace with the Kurds; grant them broad cultural and political rights, which his predecessors did not; and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), the Kurds’ armed group, would finally say farewell to arms. Erdogan (and the Kurdish leaders) would then be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Mueller’s family confirmed to ABC News that government officials have told them that their daughter, who would have turned 27 on Friday, was the victim of repeated sexual assaults by al-Baghdadi.
“We were told Kayla was tortured, that she was the property of al-Baghdadi. We were told that in June by the government,” Kayla’s parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller, told ABC News…
Al-Baghdadi, an Iraqi who calls himself “Caliph” as ruler of the Islamic State, personally brought the enslaved 26-year-old humanitarian aid worker from Prescott, Arizona, to be imprisoned inside the home of Abu Sayyaf, a Tunisian in charge of oil and gas revenue for the group, counter-terrorism officials have told ABC News over the past several months…