Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A civilization in conflict

slam faces internal clash that may fundamentally change region

Ophir Falk
Israel Opinion

With the end of the cold war in late 1989, marked by the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the bipolar world order, two major, yet contrasting, views of the paradigm to come were raised. One view advocated "The End of History," whereby the world would be immune from ideological wars and future conflicts would be very limited, effectively posing no substantial threat to Western civilization. Others advocated the view that ethnically volatile regions previously viewed as stable satellite entities of the Soviet Union would inevitably erupt, leading to a "Clash of Civilizations."

Future historians will eventually conclude which thesis was more accurate, but today - with the pictures coming out of Iran and from other Middle East areas - it seems that Islam is more in clash with itself than it is with other civilizations.

"Moderates" are clashing with "Militants" in the Islamic world, as civilians who seek liberty, personal freedom, peace and prosperity clash with regimes that prop up the Islamic pillar of jihad.

We have recently witnessed a potentially fundamental shift in the region, with the election results in Lebanon and the yet-to-be-settled aftermath of the Iranian vote. This does not mean that we have reached "the end of history" but it does mean that change may be on its way. It would seem that people do indeed have the power.

Men of opportunity
Mir Hossein Mousavi will probably not be the one to bring about real reform - neither are the extreme Iranian clerics and politicians who may support him. These are not men of peace. These are men of opportunity. There is no material difference between them and the current Iranian leadership on such material issues as weapons of mass murder, terrorism and Israel's right to exist.

The turmoil and riots in Iran that have gone much further than most experts had expected may not result in a complete revolution today. But the Iranian people's struggle for a brighter day will not go away. The internet and Google will not go away either.

The answers lie on the streets of Tehran, on the soccer fields and in their stands. Hope lies with peoples in Lebanon, Libya, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Jordan, Egypt and perhaps even Saudi Arabia, who support the principles of liberty, peace and prosperity rather than insularity, repression and jihad.

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