Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Real War of Ideas

Thomas B. Friedman, NYT
JUNE 10, 2014

The takeover Tuesday of the Iraqi city of Mosul by Sunni extremists who spilled over the Syrian border underscores the clash of world views that is underway in the whole Eastern Mediterranean, which I saw close up during my visit to Kurdistan a few days ago. And it’s not what you think.

It is not the elected Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki versus the Sunni extremists. Maliki is a tyrant who’s governed Iraq as a Shiite chauvinist, just as much as Sunni militants promote Sunni chauvinism. Both are losers. No — the real of war of ideas, the only one worth taking sides in, is the one between the religious extremists (Sunni and Shiite) and the committed environmentalists. Both are actually trying to erase the borders of the Middle East, but for very different reasons.

Both the extremists and the environmentalists believe that their vision will triumph only if you imagine that the borders of Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon don’t exist and you govern the region as a single political system or ecosystem. If the extremists win — and right now they are winning — this region will become a human and ecological disaster zone. If the environmentalists win, it will be because enough people realize that if they don’t learn to share this space, either they will destroy each other or Mother Nature will soon destroy them all.

(More here.)

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