Writing in the UK Daily Telegraph, Fraser Nelson, editor of the Spectator, says the Arab world needs capitalism, more than democracy. He suggests that Western aid to Egypt be conditioned upon property rights. Throughout the Arab world, he writes, bureaucracy and corruption keep many people from starting businesses without paying costly bribes: "...under Hosni Mubarak, for example, opening a small bakery in Cairo took more than 500 days of bureaucracy. To open a business in Egypt means dealing with 29 government agencies. The same story is true throughout the region: The average Arab needs to present four dozen documents and endure two years of red tape to become the legal owner of land or business. If you don't have the time or money for this, you are condemned to life in the black market: No matter how good you are, you will never trade your way out of poverty."
The right to own property was fundamental to America's founding. In the beginning, only white male property owners were allowed to vote. Discriminatory, yes, but the point about the importance of being invested in the new nation by literally owning a piece of it was thought to be a fundamental component of citizenship.
American policy in the Middle East has failed over many decades because of false assumptions, especially when it comes to Israel. While often treating that tiny land as a weed that ought to be dug up, rather than a flower in the desert to be nourished, U.S. policy has focused on placating Arabs and Muslims, many of whom wish to destroy Israel and America.
Perhaps now that the United States is rapidly headed toward energy independence (enhanced if the opposition to the Keystone pipeline and fracking can be overcome), this and future administrations won't feel the need to bow to Middle East dictators and will push a "re-set" button that has a better chance at succeeding than the one that for too long has been stuck and inoperative.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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