Arab Society in RevoltThere are so many ways in which U.S. society is diametrically different than Muslim society. I thought this analysis of one simple aspect of the problem went straight to the heart of why what we (as a nation) are trying to accomplish is doomed to failure.

Arab society pre-dates ours by centuries and yet we continue viewing it as if Arab societies are failed attempts at being us.

The article cited is a longer read but this except makes the point.  I’m sure the book takes it even further.

The West’s two big mistakes in the Arab world : a review of Arab Society in Revolt: The West’s Mediterranean Challenge | By Cesare Merlini and Olivier Roy (Eds) (Jennifer S. Bryson, 8 April 2013, Mercator) 

Roy examines some of the West’s key interpretive missteps. For one thing, Roy sees the West hindering itself from development of successful policies due to “[a]n entrenched prejudice in Western public opinion . . . that secularization in Muslim-majority societies must precede any process of democratization” (p. 47). Instead, asserts Roy, “the real issue is institutionalization of democracy, not the secularization of public space” (p. 52). In other words, Western powers are missing opportunities to help democracy set roots by distracting themselves with concern and even fear about public religiosity.

At the same time, Roy sees an opportunity for Western self-reflection to help inform policies. For one thing, he observes, the West is and has long been philosophically, politically, and religiously diverse, and the view of religious actors toward the state has been varied and has changed over time. Yet many Westerners act on an assumption of homogeneity, especially religious homogeneity, among Muslims in the Middle East. He suggests that if perhaps Europeans and North Americans were to consider how it would feel to have outsiders view them as a single culture and treat Western Christianity as a homogeneous block then they might begin to understand why Western policies assuming homogeneity among Arabs, especially among Arab Muslims, are misguided.

Roberto Aliboni maintains that the real choice the West faces is between moderate and conservative Islamist movements, and not supporting the former would be a mistake. The only alternative to these two he sees as “weak and confused Western-style liberals” (p. 204).