All it takes to make a tribal society into a "democracy" is a few committed individuals within the tribe to force the issue...and the majority of the rest of the tribe will respond to the offer of freedom.
If you really think about this article, there is a lot of truth in it. Sure there are ME democracies, of which only one is remotely civilized, Israel. But the Sunnis are a sort of tribe, as are the Shia, the Kurds, the Turks, the Persians, the Afghan warlords, Somali warlords, Sudani militias etc. They really don't care about the welfare of others outside their groups. They kill and do what is best to put their group in power. The entire West is just the Others, merely pawns to obliterate and eventually take their land.
The Others will eventually have to come together as a supertribe. That will get their respect.
I would qualify that to say that "history to some starts each day when they wake up.
I agree. But we've got a whole lot of tribes and past grievances and outside actors to contend with.
I found this article while reading a blog post about tribalism. I did not find that post to be all that useful, but it did have an interesting point about religion being a historically successful means of overcoming tribalism: "The universe is a unity. Since it is a unity there can be only one Maker. Tribal gods are null and void. Unity for a nation then becomes possible."
Kind of an oddly worded way of saying it, but basically allegiance to the tribe (the extended family) is difficult to overcome, but it can be overcome, substituted and/or augmented with allegiance to the greatest elder of all: our maker. Religion has been a key instrument in uniting. It is how Mohammed united the Arab tribes, for example.
The problem that we now face in Iraq is that religion already united the tribes. Hussein, especially after Desert Storm, very skillfully reconstituted tribal politics in order to reconsolidate his hold on power. A great article that I read a while back (which I am no longer able to find online) was called "Neo-Tribalism in Iraq". It discussed how tribalism came to dominate Iraqi politics, how rewards and punishments were doled out to tribes more so than individuals or other groups. It also discussed, to my surprise, tribal wars in the 90s that were so large and violent that the government didn't even intervene. There were, in some cases, tribes literally firing Howitzers at one another.
So how to unify the tribes now? Religion has already been used and tribalism revived. Try another religion, perhaps? Prosletyzing in the mideast goes over about as well as a fart in church. Many who have commented on this thread point out that we have democracy in the mideast - just look at the votes that have been held and the purple fingers being waved. Well, congratulations to them for reading the title of the article and nothing else. If our goal were to hold an election or two, then our mission is accomplished and we can pack up and go home. Our goal is to establish a sustainable democracy - not hold a couple of elections.
Tribalism and religion are the big stumbling blocks for us as we try to formulate and implement a strategy for creating a sustainable democracy in Iraq. Religion can effectively overcome tribalism, but religion has been effectively manipulated to rally the masses against building institutions necessary for democracy. This has caused us to often resort to exploiting tribal politics as an expedient means to gaining cooperation from the people, which reinforces the tribalism that lends itself to conditions that are not conducive to democracy.
3 steps forward, 2 steps back. Repeat.