"The only way for these countries to catch up is by people uniting to mobilize all their strength. It is for Sunnis, Christians and Alawites in Syria to work together; for the tribes in Yemen and Libya to work together; for the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists and liberals in Egypt to do so as well, particularly in implementing the proposed International Monetary Fund economic reforms. In today’s globalized world, you fall behind faster than ever if you are not building the education, infrastructure and economic foundation to take advantage of this world — but you catch up faster if you do."
Heck, why didn't I think of that? All they need to do is cooperate! Just think: If Sunnis and Alawites in Syria, Muslims and Copts in Egypt, and Sunnis and Shiites in Yemen were all to stop hating one another, they could "catch up" with the West!
But in order to "catch up," they might also need to stop engaging in female genital mutilation in Egypt and put an end to "honor killings" of their mothers, daughters and sisters throughout the Muslim Middle East and Turkey.
Arm the rebels in Syria? Friedman also has some remarkable thoughts:
"So let’s do something new: think two steps ahead. Before we start sending guns to more people, let’s ask ourselves for what exact ends we want those guns used and what else would be required of them and us to realize those ends?"
That's brilliant, Tom. We need to "think."
Meanwhile, as reported by Lebanon's Daily Star (http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2013/May-21/217817-hezbollah-role-in-syria-grows-more-prominent.ashx#axzz2TqlVMRsw) in an article entitled "Hezbollah role in Syria grows more prominent":
"Hezbollah was drawn deeper into Syria’s civil war as 28 fighters from the group were killed and dozens more wounded while fighting rebels, opposition activists said Monday.
The intense battle in Qusair, part of a government offensive aimed at securing a strategic corridor from Damascus to the Mediterranean coast, drove rebels from large parts of the town.
. . . .
[I]t took Hezbollah troops a few hours to take control of the city’s main square and municipal building. By the end of the day, they had pushed out rebel units, including the AlQaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, from most of Qusair, he said Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by both sides."
Hezbollah vs. al-Qaeda? Kind of like Freddy Krueger from "A Nightmare on Elm Street" vs. Jason Voorhees from "Friday the 13th."
Should we just let them continue killing themselves?
All fine and good, were it not for the fact that more than 80,000 people, mostly innocent civilians, have died since the start of the uprising in Syria, which has resulted in 1.5 million refugees. (Syria has a total population of some 22 million.) That's a helluva lot of human suffering.
Think two steps ahead, as Tom suggests? Thinking is good, but that's a lot to request from a gun-shy Obama administration, which is reaping the rewards of "lead from behind" in Libya and enmeshed in domestic scandals.
US troops in Syria? No way in hell, but that doesn't mean that the US shouldn't be more proactive to stop the slaughter.