"Nation building" seems to have fallen into disrepute in the West, but it should not. It is vitally important -- as the successes of Germany, Japan and South Korea attest.
Over the past few years, in our foolishness, we in the Middle East swallowed the deceptive bait of "democracy" dangled before us, even though we knew that it could not, in the misguided way it was presented, be implemented in the Middle East.
The idea was superb, but here in the Middle East, possibly in being impatient to "get credit" before the diplomats' term of office were over, no one ever took the time to establish the institutions of democracy -- equal justice under law, freedom of speech, property rights, the primacy of the individual rather than the collective, separation of religion and state -- to show us in the Middle East how democracy actually operates, and to allow those institutions to take root before ever holding an election.
So eager were Western leaders to take credit right away that they refused "let the rice bake." Had the West introduced democratic elections to Japan and South Korea (where they eventually worked brilliantly) in the same way it muscled democracy into Iraq, it would never have taken root in those countries either. Had the Germans had been asked to vote right after World War II, they would most likely have reelected the Nazis -- that was what they knew. It took seven years to re-educate the public to understand and accept a Konrad Adenauer.
What seems clear is that we have sacrificed Sunni stability for empty slogans -- and for clueless, if well-meaning, American officials. As we watched one stable Arab regime fall after another, we allowed American ideology to destroy us from within. Instead of keeping our eyes on the real threat, we exhausted ourselves in wasteful, unending battles against the Jews -- meanwhile letting the Iranian menace slip out of sight.
If we try to look at the positive side of the Iran nuclear agreement, it is just possible that Obama looked at the Sunni Arab states, fractured and at each other's throats, and at the ruthless terrorist groups gaining ground in the expanding battle zones, and decided that we were too fractious for the U.S. to protect.
Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have been worsening the situation in the Arab world by funding Sunni terrorist organizations, thereby putting it on a course of complete chaos. Despite Arab wealth and power, we have been dealing almost exclusively with the marginal issue of Palestine and the Jews, to excuse our inability to be effective in giving U.S. President Barack Obama what he really needs: regional stability.
Obama sees Iran and its terrorist organizations, which are all unified, organized and obedient, opposing the Sunni Arabs. Obama may be betting on Iran to bring order to the Middle East.
Imagine if we and our fundamentalist Sunni terrorist organizations had actually focused on stopping the Iranians in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. Imagine if we had abandoned, even momentarily, the dream of the Muslim Brotherhood (what the West calls "political Islam") ruling the world. Imagine if we had stopped our stupid, useless acts of hatred, and could instead have focused on our common enemy, Iran. Our situation now would be immeasurably better. We would not be deviating from the teachings of Muhammad, because first we have to focus on the near enemy and then on the distant one. Iran is nearer and more dangerous than Europe and the United States, so Iran should have been -- and still should be -- the first Sunni target. We might have led Obama to adopt a different approach than allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear bomb in ten years or sooner -- but we did not, because of our weakness and distraction with marginal "causes." Thus Obama, from a desire to stabilize the Middle East, seems to be betting on the strong horse, Iran.
The truth, however, may be somewhat different. It is entirely possible that Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize, is employing a policy of "divide and conquer." In the U.S., instead of trying to improve how children in the inner cities are being educated, he has been busy stoking racial and economic conflict. The Arabs are becoming increasingly suspicious that he is a historic "divide and conquer" manipulator. He may deliberately be creating fitna (civil strife) in the Arab world by whipping up conflict with Iran, so that America will one again look like the big power-broker -- but at the expense of the Arabs.
We Arabs are expert conspiracy theorists, and interpret every political agenda as a hidden plot, but one only has to look at the Obama administration's fawning support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey and Egypt, and how America supported the fall of Mubarak, and it immediately becomes obvious that the U.S. is trying to manipulate the fate of the Arabs.
Anyone following America's rejection of, and now only reluctant support for, the reformist regime of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi understands that the Americans prefer what they consider "backward Arabs": those controlled by regressive Islam.
That is the reason we see Obama's policies as backing both the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood and the theocrats in Iran. The ideologies of both the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran's mullahs would lead to most dangerous and regressive fate of both Sunni and Shiite Muslims around the world, as well as Americans at home -- and these are the Muslims most loved by the current American administration. Or maybe, as many of us say here on the street, Obama is just trying to "get even" with the West and bring it to its knees, for being white, "imperialist" and non-Muslim. Obama's solution? To let Iran have legitimate nuclear bombs in a few years, with the intercontinental ballistic missiles to deliver them to the U.S. -- or perhaps from America's soft underbelly, South America, where Iran has been acquiring uranium and establishing bases for years. Or perhaps launched from submarines off America's coast, which would make the identity of the attacker unknowable and a response therefore impossible. Incredibly, America's politicians do not even seem to seem to be concerned about that.
Obama really does deserve a Nobel Prize, but it should have been awarded by the Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, in gratitude for America's surrender.
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East