Many, many westerners get frustrated here when dealing directly with Iraqis. Westerners most often complain that there is no sense of urgency or personal responsibility within the local culture. It seems that everything can wait to be done at a later time, and if something ever goes wrong, well it’s God’s will that it did. No one is ever at fault and almost nothing ever gets done without prompting. It drives westerners mad. I can easily see why Iraq is doomed to failure without serious outside intervention.
A small handful of us sat around the newsroom last night discussing this phenomenon. Most believed that the Iraqi people are hamstrung by religion. They point to India and Pakistan; ethnically almost identical people divided only by religion. India seems to “get it” while Pakistan is all-but doomed to failure.
This raises the question, what are the effects of radical Islam on development? How prosperous are cultures that won’t allow half of their populations to be educated, that beat, maim, or murder their people for the most minor grievances such as their manner of dress? No one can make a decision or take any action or fear or personal retribution, so in the end it’s better to do nothing. Is this the makings of a developed civilization? It would be a good graduate-level thesis project.
A few of us that had experience in Latin America made comparisons between Inshala and a prevalent Latin attitude known as Mañana, where there is little sense of urgency and things are put off until tomorrow. While the results are largely the same, Inshala is based in the Muslim religion while Mañana is soley cultural. Nevertheless, both are retarding the development of their respective practitioners. This is not to say that Muslim countries and Latin countries cannot develop, but it appears that those countries that have done so have embraced moderate Islam or neo-liberal economics and capitalism.