NEW YORK - Stating that the bad guys (extremists) are losing in Islamic countries, a prominent American columnist has called for the Arab and Muslim modernists to promote good governance in a bid to end the militant support. Thomas Friedman, who visited the 'frontline of the war on terrorism, wrote in his regular New York Times column, While the radicals have failed miserably, our allies - the pro-Americans, the Muslim modernists, the Arab moderates - have not really filled the void with reform and good government of their own. They are winning by default. During his week-long trip, Friedman visited northern Iraq, Afghanistan and northwest Pakistan. Yes, the dominos you see falling in the Muslim world today are the extremist Islamist groups and governments, he wrote. They have failed to persuade people by either their arguments or their performances in power that their puritanical versions of Islam are the answer. Having lost the argument, though, the radicals still hang on thanks to gun barrels and oil barrels - and they can for a while... For now, though, it is obvious that everywhere they have won or seized power, the Islamists - in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Algeria, Lebanon or Gaza - have overplayed their hands, dragged their societies into useless wars or engaged in nihilistic violence that today is producing a broad backlash from mainstream Muslims. Writing from Pakistan, the NYT columnist said, The backlash against the Taliban has been building among the rising middle class. It started in March when a mobile-phone video of a teenage girl being held down and beaten outside her home by a Taliban commander in Pakistans Swat Valley spread virally across this country. In May, the Pakistani Army began an offensive against Taliban militants who had taken control of key towns in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), and appeared to be moving toward the capital, Islamabad. To the extent that the radical Islamists have any energy today, it comes not from the power of their ideas or examples of good governance, but by stoking sectarian feuds. In Afghanistan, the Taliban play on Pashtun nationalist grievances, and in Iraq, the Sunni jihadists draw energy from killing Shiites. The only way to really dry up their support, though, is for the Arab and Muslim modernists to actually implement better ideas by producing less corrupt and more consensual governance, with better schools, more economic opportunities and a vision of Islam that is perceived as authentic yet embracing of modernity. That is where 'our allies in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have so consistently failed. Until that happens, the Islamist radicals will be bankrupt, but not out of business.