Phi Beta Cons

Is Arab Civilization Collapsing?

Lt. Col. James G. Lacey, a writer on defense who was embedded with the 101st Airborne Division during the war in Iraq, asserts it is a mistake for military thinkers to accept uncritically, and base military strategy on, Bernard Lewis’s The Crisis of Islam and Samuel P. Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations.

Lacey asserts that Arab, not Muslim, civilization is in a state of collapse, and that it so happens that most Arabs are Muslims – a view grounded in his interpretation of Fernand Braudel’s A History of Civilizations, John Roberts’ The Rise of the West, and Will Durant’s Story of Civilization.
In support of his thesis he cites the respected Population Resource Center, based in Princeton, which predicts a massive population increase and “youth bulge” in Arab countries. Arab governments, he notes, are already failing to meet fundamental needs – including educational needs at all levels – in many Arab countries, and the youth explosion is already shaking the foundations of Islamic society.
But Islam itself is not at all collapsing, writes Lacey, and indeed “things have not looked so good for the Muslim faith in hundreds of years.” But Arab civilization will collapse because its culture and institutions “can no longer adapt to external stresses.”
In light of this analysis, the author recommends an overarching strategic concept of containment, while recognizing that the adoption of such an approach entails numerous difficult policies.
This important article was published by the Naval Institute and available online at Militarycom.


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