|We were having an interesting discussion about this subject on another thread (http://www.strategypage.com/messageboards/messages/89-38999.asp), but moved it because we were hijacking that thread.
So far there are two main views:
- The root of the problem is Islam
There's some variation around this (radical islam vs islam in general, others), but the basic argument is that Islam itself is the main cause for the region's violence, poor government, repression of women/minorities, support of terrorism and other failings.
- The root problem is oil.
The basic argument here is that the root problem is the fact that the region is entirely dependent on the export of oil. Historically areas that are dependent on the export of a single resource (gold, diamonds, metals, coffee, spices, narcotics...) have developed spectacularly bad government, and what we see in the middle east is just the local flavour of "spectacularly bad government".
- The root is in other stuff
I have to admit we havent got much of this yet, but i could think of a series of other things people could blame the region's woes on - Israel, arab nationalism, status as former colonies, US imperialism, and others..
I personally support the "root problem is oil" hypothesis - but have at it! ;)