Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Democracy, terrorism, government - oh my...

It's been a while since I've posted -- but I just read this interesting article by Aslan. I haven't come to any conclusions yet -- but here are some thoughts.

In Defense of the Bush Doctrine - The Daily Beast

The premise is that democratization usually leads to a moderation of extremism... that by giving (via elections) radical movements a place at the table they usually become more moderate.

I'm not convinced.
Let us imagine for a moment what would have happened had Hamas been allowed to take its rightful place, albeit with certain restrictions and limitations, as the freely elected government in Palestine. Let us imagine the State Department had not financed and supervised the political campaign of Fatah, “down to the choice of backdrop color for the podium where Mr. Abbas was to proclaim victory,” as a recent column in the Christian Science Monitor claims.

Let us imagine that the United States and Israel had not banned together to blockade Gaza in an attempt to “starve the [new] Palestinian Authority of money and international connections,” as Steven Erlanger of The New York Times reported, “[so] that Palestinians will be so unhappy with life under Hamas that they will return to office a reformed and chastened Fatah movement.” Is it inconceivable that Hamas would have undergone a transformation similar to that of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the AKP in Turkey, or, for that matter, Fatah itself, which was designated a terrorist entity until it became an internationally recognized political entity (and ally to the U.S. and Israel) ? Had Hamas been given the opportunity to govern and fail (as it probably would have), would it still enjoy the popular support it receives from Palestinians? Or would the people have turned against it in favor of a less ideological, more accommodating, and more effective political party—say, Fatah—much as Fatah’s egregious failures turned the Palestinian people toward Hamas? It is often said that elections do not a democracy make. True enough. However, two consecutive elections, particularly in a place like Palestine, would have been a pretty good start.
I think that is a good point. But real democracy isn't based simply on popular election to government. It depends even more on institutions that guarentee the rights of the individual and minorities. Without those institutions - and the rights they protect - democratically elected governments are not much more than popular tyrants... tyrants that enforce the will of the majority on the minority.

These groups - at their core - expose fundamentalist principles that leave no room for the non-believer.
The simple fact is that democracy cannot take root in the Middle East without the participation of parties like Hamas and Hezbollah. So rather than making it impossible for the peoples of the Middle East to elect such groups into power, perhaps we should try giving them a reason not to.
I agree - these groups capture a significant part of the sentiments of the people in the region: its impossible to govern - or come to any kind of lasting agreement - without including them. I just don't know how you do that when many of their positions are irrational.


Anonymous said...

Hey Rick,

Fantastic post. Enjoyed it. Some of your previous posts sucked but this one was good. LOL Love ya!


RR said...

Haha... Thx V...

I think :)

Intellectual Insurgent said...

Their positions are no more or less irrational than those held by Israel, but people don't deny Israel's status as a so-called democracy.