The always-pessimistic writer who calls himself Spengler today has an even more gloomy article than usual, called The Failed Muslim States to Come. (The original Oswald Spengler wrote The Decline of the West, so you can see why this writer chose that pseudonym.) He begins:
Financial crises, like epidemics, kill the unhealthy first. The present crisis is painful for most of the world but deadly for many Muslim countries, and especially so for the most populous ones. Policy makers have not begun to assess the damage.
….As I commented in the late autumn, the world is not flat, but flattened (see Asia Times Online, October 28, 2008), leaving the economies of the largest Muslim countries in ruins. It is hard to forecast the political fallout, for when each available choice leads to a failed state, it is a matter of indifference which one you adopt. As state finances crumble, states will become less important, and freebooters will seize the stage.
He goes through the various countries, especially Iran, Pakistan and even Turkey. There’s too much to summarize; here’s a sample:
Pakistan’s military-age population is far greater than those of other Muslim military powers in the region. With about 20 million men of military age, Pakistan today has as much manpower as Turkey and Iran combined, and by 2035 it will have half again as many. Half the country is illiterate and three-quarters of it subsists on less than $2 a day, according to the World Bank. That is to say that Pakistan’s young men are more abundant as well as cheaper than in any other country in the region. Very poor and ignorant young men, especially if their only education has been in Salafi madrassas, are very easy to enlist in military adventures.
The West at present is unable to cope with a failed state like Somalia, with less than a tenth as many military age men as Pakistan, but which nonetheless constitutes a threat to world shipping and a likely source of funding for terrorism. How can the West cope with the humiliation of Pakistan’s pro-American president and the inability of its duly-constituted government to suppress Islamist elements in its army and intelligence services? For the moment, Washington will do its best to prop up its creature, Zardari, but to no avail.
Here is Spengler’s conclusion:
The lights are going out across the Middle East; states are failing, and it is not in the power of the West to make them whole again. All the strategic calculations that busied policy analysts and diplomats are changing, and the West has a very short time to learn the rules of a new and terrible game.
It looks like terrible poverty is coming all over the world, and especially in the Muslim countries. If even a few of these become failed states like Somalia, look for all kinds of attacks on western countries in search of loot — Somali piracy writ large. (I wonder which will take precedence — jihad or surviving.)
And think of the millions or perhaps billions of new refugees. Even if the developed countries of the world survive the financial storm intact, there won’t be enough money in all the world to care for those who will be looking for subsistence. There are bound to be mass movements of needy people into other countries, with who knows what result?
Do you trust the Obama administration, including Hillary Clinton’s State Department, to institute a refugee policy that responds rationally to the coming disaster? I don’t.