In his 1999 book The Lexus and the Olive Tree, Thomas Friedman described the tug-of-war between globalization and tradition. Most cultures, he explained, were torn between a yearning for prosperity (symbolized by shiny new cars) and a deep-rooted sense of identity. That was before 9/11 and the Second Intifada, when the Arab world seemed to veer away from the Lexus and lodge more firmly than ever into the knotty branches of the olive tree.
"I've see martyrs against Israel," Friedman reflects in this Aspen discussion with Walter Isaacson. "I've seen martyrs against America. But martyrs for democracy? I've never seen that before." With such fierce passions flaring up in the Middle East, Friedman says, "every single one of these Arab leaders is a dead man walking."