Over the weekend I happened to catch part of a Tim Russert interview with Tom Friedman. Although Tom is a big-time liberal, I do enjoy his thoughts on the Middle East, which was the focus of the interview.
He mentioned a few points that I think will have bearing on the king of the South:
The Arab world is experiencing a population explosion, fueled largely by oil wealth.
Half the population of the Arab world is under age 25 (if I understood him correctly).
A third of the population is under 14.
Arab national and religious leaders continually force-feed their people a steady diet of anti-Western propaganda, blaming the West (i.e., Christianity and Jews) for all the problems in the Arab world. This has created a great deal of hatred for the West.
Arab-state oil production will inevitably slow down as oilfields age and become exhausted. This will lead to slowdowns and worsening economic conditions throughout the Arab world. Arab rulers will have less money to spread around to keep growing numbers of young people content. Since Arab rulers have done nothing to develop their economies other than to pump oil, we will see growing numbers of unemployed, angry young Arab men with no jobs and no prospects for jobs.
He left out the obvious conclusion - that all of this Arab anger will become even more explosive--and directed at the West - in the coming decade as all these factors intensify.
To my surprise, he seemed to actually give the Bush administration credit for trying to thwart these trends by promoting political freedom (almost inevitably followed by economic freedom and prosperity) first in Iraq, then in the rest of the Arab world. He seemed to see these as the only solutions for preventing a coming meltdown in the Arab world.
Tom is working on a new book to be released soon. Presumably he will cover a lot of this material in it. It should be interesting reading.
Context for this analysis can be obtained from our booklet, The Middle East in Prophecy .
Thoughts on the King of the South