Home > The Economics Profession > Parallel between Syria and Economics?

Parallel between Syria and Economics?

from Jack Reardon

reposted from the WEA Pedagogy Blog

In contemplating the latest crises in Syria I found helpful Thomas Freidman’s article, “Same War, Different Country,” (New York Times, Sept. 8, 2013). Referring to Syria and other countries in the Arab world he wrote,

“The center exists in these countries, but is weak and unorganized. It’s because there are pluralistic societies – mixtures of tribes and religious sects, namely Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, Kurds, Druze and Turkmen –  but they lack any sense of citizenship or deep ethic of pluralism. That is tolerance, cooperation and compromise. They could hold together as long as there was a dictator to protect (and divide) everyone from everyone else. But when the dictator goes, and you are a pluralist society but lack pluralism, you can’t build anything because there is never enough trust for one community to cede power to another – not without an army of the center to protect everyone from everyone. In short, the problem now across the Arab East is not just poison gas, but poisoned hearts. Each tribe or sect believes it is in a rule-or-die struggle against the next, and when everyone believes this, it becomes self-fulfilling.”

Friedman’s  insights  also elucidate the current situation in economics.  read more

  1. Robert Locke
    September 20, 2013 at 8:33 am

    The problem is that it is too late to do much about Syria because the situation there is an outgrowth of the Bush administration’s unbelievable misguided polices, which some might attribute to the limited (neo-classical economics similar) thinking of the neo-cons. If we accept the Bushies’ justification for the invasion (get rid of the tyrant, and replace him with a functional plurialist democracy), the goal, any person familiar with the history and sociology of religion of the region, could not be accomplished, because most people who live in Iraq are Shiites. If democracy is introduced there, then Shiites will dominate the government. We overthrew the regime, and the Shiites won power. Consequences: because Shiites are close to Iran, we have brought an Iran friendly government into power in Iraq. Since Assad is also a Shite (Iranian) backed power, we have through this policy of democratizing Iraq created a Shiite power crescent that runs from Iran right up to the border of Israel. And both Israel and the US seem clueless about what to do now about their catastrophic foreign policy. In the meanwhile, the Sunnis in Iraq are terrorizing the Shite dominated regime. What was missing in the brains of the US policy makers back in 2002: a knowledge of history and sense for the political dynamics of the Middle-East (Cheney, Rumsfeldt. etc. were corporate managers, numbers crunchers), a sense of the limitations of power (Bismarck knew when to stop being expansionist in Europe, his followers didn’t); a too great reliance on the management sciences introduced into the Pentagon by McNamara in the Vietnam War. The Bush administration carried out the most disasterus foreign policy in American history, primarily because of ignorance about the world.

  2. Norman L. Roth
    September 20, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Sept. 20, 2013,
    It’s hard to believe that the author of #1 above is ranting at somebody else’s “ignorance of the world” or “they seem clueless&” or It’s “the most disastrous foreign policy in American history”. His continuous use of such phrases as “WE overthrew”…”If WE accept..”…”WE have been through this. “Not to mention the “Why I hate George W. Bush” tom-toms, & the vulgarian anti-Americanism, that still thunder away inside his skull after 5 years of what may well be the most preposterously incompetent presidency for more than a century. Perhaps he’s laying the foundations for a permanent “”Bushes are to blame for everything” grand conspiracy theory of everything. He’s probably hard at work rounding up more “WE””s to beat on the same drums.
    Does anybody really believe the Islamic world’s uncontrollable downdraft into the sewers of history was all caused by the non-stop -schemes of the “WE’s” in the Infidels’ seats of power? Like the “outside agitators” of Southern U.S. history ? Or that it’s entirely because of all those tribal, ethnic, language,clan differences in the failed-state universe of Islam ? Such divisions have always beset humankind since the Tower of Babel? The content of their religious culture caused the deeply embedded behavioural patterns that have undermined their governances and are now turning the world upside down. They, for the most part, are the authors of their own misfortunes. Please GOOGLE [1] Technos, Norman Roth [2] Origins of Markets, Norman Roth [3]TELOS & TECHNOS, Roth

    • Robert Locke
      September 20, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Norman, at it again. “We overthrow,” in what deep cellar were you hiding when the US military invaded Iraq and tore up the Euphrates. Some of that shock and awe must have invaded your space. “Ignorance of the world,” is exactly what we saw on parade in the decision to invade Iraq. All the rest of the hyperbole is your usual diatribe. If you hate Islam that is your business, silly man, but we have to cope with it, and turning the entire Islamic world into our enemies isn’t exactly clever politics. I scratched you off my list of sensible people long ago.

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