I think the lessons are really tough, you see, and very difficult and I think the trouble is the lessons themselves are subject to great and heated debate. My view is that in the end the whole of the Middle East and beyond is undergoing this period of huge transition where you have these dictatorial regimes whose time is up you. On the other hand, the battle for the future is between what I would call the modern-minded types of people, the people who took to the streets first in Egypt, who want what we want, but against them are various groups, Islamist groups, that I’m afraid don’t have the same concept, democracy or freedom that we do. If any of them get hold of the potential to engage in mass destruction, we’ve got a huge problem on our hands.
…the fact is this ideology is being pumped around websites, is being encouraged by people in many different parts of the world. and it’s there and it’s very hard for us to deal with. The first obligation of a government is to try to protect its people, but then you’ve got to cast out this ideology. i think this is very similar to the fight we faced in the 20th century against Fascism and Communism, it’s an ideology. It’s not one command and control center. You’re not talking about a country, but you are talking about an ideology based on a perversion of religion which has enormous force. If you don’t deal with this issue, this long-term question, ideology based on the religion of Islam, you are going to end up fighting this for a long time.
I grew up taking technology for granted. Television, radio, cars, planes, electricity – they’ve been there all my life. But they didn’t just appear out of nowhere. For about 10,000 years men and women gained knowledge, preserved it, built on it, and passed it on. We stand on the shoulders of those people.
But there have also been occasional setbacks – times when knowledge was lost and had to be rediscovered. These times mirrored the fall of past civilizations.
But civilization is a lot like technology – you could call it “political technology”. Many of us take our civilization for granted. But civilization is really just the accumulated knowledge of how humans can live together in peace and prosperity.
Just as we have some Luddites out there who despise technology, there are some people out there who despise civilization. If they had their way we would discard some of our accumulated knowledge and return to earlier times.
There is a term for those earlier times: “dark ages”.
Imagine if we closed all our schools and quit teaching science and technology. We would still have all the current manifestations of that technology, but we could never build more. As things broke down they couldn’t be replaced. Within a few generations we would be savages living in the ruins.
Ever seen a ghost town or an abandoned farm? Once upon a time all the buildings were brand new. But as time passes entropy takes over and everything begins to rust and decay. Eventually only a few traces remain.
The rule of law is one pillar of civilization. It is not the only pillar, but it is an essential one. It must be preserved and improved. That is why I am so anal about this issue.
I don’t want my grandchildren to have to live in a dark age.