James Forsyth

The extremists are losing but the modernisers aren’t yet winning

The extremists are losing but the modernisers aren't yet winning
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Tom Friedman’s analysis of where the war on terror stands in the New York Times today is well worth reading. Here’s the crux of his argument:

“it is obvious that everywhere they have won or seized power, the Islamists — in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Algeria, Lebanon or Gaza — have overplayed their hands, dragged their societies into useless wars or engaged in nihilistic violence that today is producing a broad backlash from mainstream Muslims.

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The only way to really dry up their support, though, is for the Arab and Muslim modernists to actually implement better ideas by producing less corrupt and more consensual governance, with better schools, more economic opportunities and a vision of Islam that is perceived as authentic yet embracing of modernity. That is where “our” allies in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have so consistently failed. Until that happens, the Islamist radicals will be bankrupt, but not out of business.”

Friedman is right that the extremists have largely had their chance because of the failings of so many governments across the Muslim world. However, the medieval agenda of the extremists is too extreme to maintain popular support for long.  But the extremists will only stop having opportunities, when these governments become more responsive and accountable to their peoples.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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