Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Which is more important, democracy in the Middle East or progress for people?

JD Whitlock has made an excellent point about the march of democracy in the middle east. Citing a very good article in the New Republic. JD points out that democracy only matters in its effect on the future and how that future supports the interests of the United States. As noted in the article, if elections were held in Egypt today, the Islamic whackos would get a clear majority and in the long run it would be a setback for US interests in the middle east and more importantly, for the Egyptians themselves.

Like it or not, there is still something to the idea of national sovereignty and the idea that nations should be allowed to evolve at their own pace. Free lance reporter Christopher Allbritton sums this up very well, in his recent writings by pointing out that, "Most Arab states would like to have democracy, yes, but not at the barrel of a gun, which is how it came here. If the choice is being invaded, occupied and force-fed controversial elections that might lead to civil war versus working at democratic reforms at their own pace and in their own way, I suspect most Arabs would choose the latter. And who could blame them? Iraq is not an example to emulate."

Furthermore, which is more important to Americans, peace and stability in the region, or instability and fanaticism which those devoted to radical Islam generate? I submit the former is more important. It does us no good to have a democratically elected government in Iraq or anywhere else if that government is going to be in opposition to the interests of the United States. The sacrifice of 1400+ brave young Americans will have been in vain and I, like many others, do not wish to have that happen. The neoncons would tell you that any election is a good election. To that I would respond that, we should not forget that Adolf Hitler came into office as a democratically elected leader. Somewhere out there waiting in the wings, is a future Nasser waiting to be elected in one of the Arab nations. Sadly, had we supported the British during the Suez invasion 50 years ago we could have strengthened the British Empire, and in doing so our own position in the world. We did not, and so began the long chain of events leading to Sept 11th.

Herman Wouk wrote in one of his novels that, "Victory is meaningless except in its effect on the politics of the future. You [Americans] have yet to grasp that." His words are very true today. Victory in Iraq is meaningless unless it provides for stability and peace in the region. To date we have yet to see any real evidence of that. The conservative elite will tout the demonstrations in Lebanon as proof to the contrary. , I submit that it proves a very different point, namely that nations act in their self interest. Syria is acting in its interest by using Lebanon as a way to hem in Israel, and Lebanon is acting to convince Syria its time to go. 100 years ago, the British would have referred to this as the "The Great Game". Moving the Arab chess board around to keep the Russians at bay. Very little has changed in the intervening years, except that it is no longer Russia we seek to keep at bay, it is radical Islam.

But "wait", you ask, " is not liberty a God given right to each and every nation?" "That's what my President told me". Sure, but it is also God's will that they freely choose it and for nations that will be when they are ready to do so. To try to be a midwife and force the process along in a hurried fashion only leads to tragedy and anguish. Until the Arabs themselves choose to divest themselves of the albatross of Islam, a democratically elected government could worsen the situation rather than improve it. America needs to act in its self interest, and if we pretend we are above all that, we are only playing the fool. No one really believes that anyway.

So for a while anyway, we should help Mubarak and the monarchs like the King of Jordan. They are not democratically elected, but they have done things to support America. There are democratically elected governments that have yet to do that.

"Let the persimmon ripen on the vine"- Japanese proverb.



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