He has not made the world anew, history did not bend to his will, the Indians and Pakistanis have been told that the matter of Kashmir is theirs to resolve, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the same intractable clash of two irreconcilable nationalisms, and the theocrats in Iran have not “unclenched their fist,” nor have they abandoned their nuclear quest.
There is little Mr. Obama can do about this disenchantment. He can’t journey to Turkey to tell its Islamist leaders and political class that a decade of anti-American scapegoating is all forgiven and was the product of American policies—he has already done that. He can’t journey to Cairo to tell the fabled “Arab street” that the Iraq war was a wasted war of choice, and that America earned the malice that came its way from Arab lands—he has already done that as well. He can’t tell Muslims that America is not at war with Islam—he, like his predecessor, has said that time and again.
…The laws of gravity, the weight of history and of precedent, have caught up with the Obama presidency. We are beyond stirring speeches. The novelty of the Obama approach, and the Obama persona, has worn off. There is a whole American diplomatic tradition to draw upon—engagements made, wisdom acquired in the course of decades, and, yes, accounts to be settled with rogues and tyrannies. They might yet help this administration find its way out of a labyrinth of its own making.
From the Guardian:
From west African coastal states such as Guinea-Bissau the drugs pass through Mauritania, Mali and Niger before ending up in Libya or Egypt. From there, law enforcement officials suspect the drugs are hidden in containers on board cargo ships, which are less likely to be searched than those from Latin America.
Intelligence agencies are studying claims that the airstrip in Mali is under the control of one of al-Qaida’s most powerful franchises, raising concerns that Africa’s burgeoning role in the cocaine trade is now funding terrorism.
It is not only al-Qaida that may be involved. A briefing prepared for the US Congress speculated that west Africa’s substantial Lebanese trading community – strong supporters of Hezbollah – have been buying the drug from the paramilitary group Farc, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
The Economist gives a harsh view of education in the Arab World:
According to surveys, barely a third of Egyptian adults have ever heard of Charles Darwin and just 8% think there is any evidence to back his famous theory. Teachers, who might be expected to know better, seem equally sceptical. In a survey of nine Egyptian state schools, where Darwin’s ideas do form part of the curriculum for 15-year-olds, not one of more than 30 science teachers interviewed believed them to be true. At a private university in the United Arab Emirates, only 15% of the faculty thought there was good evidence to support evolution.
The strength of religious belief among Arabs partly explains their reluctance to accept the facts of evolution. Until recent reforms, state primary schools in Saudi Arabia devoted 31% of classroom time to religion, compared with just 20% for mathematics and science. A quarter of the kingdom’s university students devote the main part of their degree course to Islamic studies, more than in engineering, medicine and science put together. And despite changes to Saudi curriculums, religious study remains obligatory every year from primary school through to university.
Comparing educational systems:
The most rigorous comparative study of education systems, a survey called Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) that comes out every four years, revealed in its latest report, in 2007, that out of 48 countries tested, all 12 participating Arab countries fell below the average. More disturbingly, less than 1% of students aged 12-13 in ten Arab countries reached an advanced benchmark in science, compared with 32% in Singapore and 10% in the United States. Only one Arab country, Jordan, scored above the international average, with 5% of its 13-year-olds reaching the advanced category.
A listing of the world’s top 500 universities, compiled annually by Shanghai Jiao Tong University, includes three South African and six Israeli universities, but not a single Arab one. The Swiss-based World Economic Forum ranks Egypt a modest 70th out of 133 countries in competitiveness, but in terms of the quality of its primary education system and its mathematics-and-science teaching, it slumps to 124th. Libya, despite an income of $16,000 a head, ranks an even more dismal 128th in the quality of its higher education, lower than dirt-poor Burkina Faso, with an average income of $577.
The situation today:
Arab countries now spend as much or more on education, as a share of GDP, than the world average. They have made great strides in eradicating illiteracy, boosting university enrollment and reducing gaps in education between the sexes.
In attempt not to out-price citizens from poor nations, publishing companies often sell books–including textbooks–at marked-down prices to the third world. In other words, a textbook purchased in Africa is cheaper than the same textbook purchased in the United States or Europe.
The consequence of this good intention, however, is that third world “entrepreneurs” buy the lower-priced books in bulk to resell to the West. All the while, the original publishers loose sales and consequently witness falling profits.
Even after paying transaction costs, these “entrepreneurs” turn a sizable profit. Despite the financial cost, publishing companies eat the losses to protect their image. Surely they don’t want to read the headline ‘XYZ Printing raises prices in Africa above affordability.’
There is, however, likely an even larger publishing black market in the third world: photocopied books.
Across the street from the American University in Cairo library, for instance, are several photocopy stores. In a single room sits a man and his photocopy machine. The customer brings him a book, and within a few hours it is copied and bound. There are no book stores across the street.
The price, of course, is significantly cheaper than purchasing the book. This is where students, and yes, professors go to take care of their textbook needs.
The government, in both examples, has bigger concerns. After all, the third party that looses in both examples is foreign.
The BBC writes,
Samy shares his home with dead people; they are buried around his kitchen, 60 of them, and he does not know any of them.
It might sound macabre but there is nothing about his story that would shock Egyptians.
In fact, statistics suggest that one in 18 people in Cairo now live in the City of the Dead. They have stopped asking why.
Below are some pictures I took last year in the City of the Dead.
According to worldpublicopinion.org, of seventeen nations polled, majorities in only nine believed that al Qaeda was behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
On average, 46 percent say that al Qaeda was behind the attacks while 15 percent say the US government, seven percent Israel, and seven percent some other perpetrator. One in four say they do not know.
As for the Middle East:
Publics in the Middle East are especially likely to name a perpetrator other than al Qaeda. In Egypt 43 percent say that Israel was behind the attacks, as do 31 percent in Jordan and 19 percent in the Palestinian Territories. The US government is named by 36 percent of Turks and 27 percent of Palestinians. The numbers who say al Qaeda was behind the attacks range from 11 percent in Jordan to 42 percent in the Palestinian Territories.
The only countries with overwhelming majorities citing al Qaeda are the African countries: Kenya (77%) and Nigeria (71%). In Nigeria, a large majority of Muslims (64%) also say that al Qaeda was behind the attacks (compared to 79% of Nigerian Christians).
Yes, Israel and Egypt have signed a peace treaty. And yes, they have not had any conflicts since the signing. But there is a distinction between peace involving governments, and peace involving individuals. The Egyptian people have yet to make peace with the people of Israel.
According to a recent survey, Muslims believe globalization and international trade benefit their country.
These findings challenge the belief that the Muslim world hates the free world. The vast majority want to be a part of the larger economic community. Unfortunately these desires are often restricted by both their governments and ours.