In defense of democracy

Posted by lex, on July 17, 2006

Over at NRO’s The Corner these weekend, several of the natives spent time analyzing the pro’s and con’s of the Middle Eastern Democracy Project – the hearts and minds element (not to mention moral underpinning, once you lay preventative self-defense aside) – of the GWOT.

Andy McCarthy is sceptical that the game is worth the candle, while Michael Ledeen insists that there is no other way out from a multi-generational war. But all of this is neatly tied together by TigerHawk, who also adds this thought:

The “democratization” of the Muslim world, therefore, is critical to the destruction of the jihadi ideology for more than one reason. Least important is the reason most often given by the Bush administration and its supporters — that it will “drain the swamp” of Muslim rage that festers under the heel of Muslim authoritarian and monarchical regimes. As Gause and Pape and Andy McCarthy and Pat Buchanan argue, democratization may not shrink the number of radicals. But if enough Muslims conclude that popular sovereignty is a more attractive ideology than radical Islam, the number of Arab and Muslim enemies of al Qaeda and Hezbollah will increase many times. Even if young democracies in the region elect governments that are less pliable from an American perspective, they may also do a better job of fighting Islamist terrorists, which represent a mortal threat to democratic government.

Enlist allies then by giving them a stake in the fight. Makes sense to me.

For my own part, I think that democratization is not only a moral imperative, but a strategically necessary one. Elections do have consequences, and if were are to more precisely evaluate where the West stands with respect to the the East, then it’s useful to get their popular opinion on accountable record. Today we are treated to the oily smooth smiles and civilized reassurances of illegitimate and unrepresentative governing elites, but these are largely designed to distract us from the nasty little games they play behind the scenes: Stoking of the fires of envy, resentment and race hatred as a way of diverting outward the energies of their oppressed and restless masses.

When Israel withdrew from Gaza, it was partly a tactical move to shorten their lines as well as a move to get out from under the moral burden of being a non-representative occupier. But it the Jewish state also asked a strategic question of their neighbors, and a carefully graduated one at that – while all the world understands that the basis for any “two-state” solution in the Holy Land would mean the withdrawal by Israel to roughly their pre-1967 borders, the Israelis keenly appreciate how very close and pinched that state would look at its “waist”, and how indefensible that border would be – especially if those on the other side remain unremittingly hostile to their continued existence. No further withdrawals from the West Bank would be undertaken until the PA could demonstrate the maturity and capacity to govern rationally in Gaza.

And here was the strategic question: By unconditionally withdrawing their army and settlements from the south, the Israeli government gave the Palestinian people part of what they had always insisted upon, while also asking them, “Must there be more violence? Cannot you live alongside us?” By choosing the terrorist Hamas absolutists in their democratic elections the Palestinian people provided their answer, at least for now: “There must. We cannot.”

If that is truly to be the East’s answer to the broader West as well, then it would be useful to give them the opportunity to look us in the eye and tell us so. We would all, at least, have the virtue of knowing where we stand.

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, GWOT

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