I've often wondered how the Middle East have been if it had been run by Deng Xiaoping -- the fellow who led China to its modernization, its huge middle class, its modern new infrastructure its wealth and happiness.
Or what if Africa had been unified by a Qin Shi Huangdi, the emperor who unified China over two thousand ago -- and had abolished tribalism as Qin did. And was now run by an effective pragmatist like Lee Kuan-yew.
The answers are obvious.
But they weren't and aren't as lucky as China or Singapore. Vast improvements in human lives have been foregone by being run by religious zealots, incompetent tyrants or tribal sectarians.
Thomas Friedman contemplates the same thing.
In fairness, Sisi [president of Egypt] is trying to dig Egypt out. Nevertheless, Egypt may send troops to defeat the rebels in Yemen. If so, it would be the first case of a country where 25 percent of the population can't read sending troops to rescue a country where the water comes through the tap 36 hours a month to quell a war where the main issue is the 7th century struggle over who is the rightful heir to the Prophet Muhammad — Shiites or Sunnis.
Any Chinese preschooler can tell you: That's not an equation for success.