Monday, December 19, 2005

Democracy Must be Imposed on the Middle East

People often cringe when you assert that values must be imposed. They mistakenly think of a Jerry Fallwell or Pat Robertson telling them what to do in their own bedroom. On the contrary, there are simply behaviors which cannot be allowed in a viable social order. Burning a widow to death in a suttee ritual is forbidden regardless of the passion of one’s belief in this gruesome and long established practice. Democracy must be imposed on the Middle East. This is nonnegotiable if we wish to save the world from utter destruction. An attitude of live and let live is not appropriate in this situation. If nothing else, 9/11 pushed us into this new direction. It was reason alone to liberate Iraq. The weapons of mass destruction and other issues are of secondary importance. Bernard Lewis has often warned of the rage of the Muslim world. Some 400-500 years ago, its leaders decided to turn their back on scientific advances and the overall modern project. The West soon started to dominate in about every conceivable category. The supposed children of allah, especially Arab males, saw their power disappear. By the the 19th Century, Muslims could only dream of the halcyon days of long gone era. This turned into outrage and bitterness sometime in the mid 1950s. Since Muslims were suppose to reign supreme---it was obvious that they were cheated. The Jews and their Christian infidel cohorts had stabbed them in the back and stolen their natural birthright. Considering their premises, what other conclusion could they reach?

The Islamic nihilists have declared war on the West. We are in a fight to the death. No longer can we look the other way while much of the Muslim world remains in the 15th Century. They must become full citizens of the 21st. Are we doing them a favor? Yes, but our primary motivation must be premised on self preservation. Democracy must become the norm---even though in the short run our lives might even be made a bit more endangered. Admittedly, in the here and now, a tyrannical dictator may be able to squash the terrorists. Our adventure in Iraq where the first domino is falling is merely a step in the right direction. Our long term goal is to convert the whole region over the democratic way of living. If we fail to succeed, there might not even be a long term agenda to worry about. The Muslim nihilists could destroy all life on this planet if let unhindered. Either pay the relatively modest price today---or suffer the awful consequences tomorrow. Which option do you prefer? You must decide whether you like it or not.


markg8 said...

Why not just cut out the middleman and convert them all to Christianity or Judiasm at the point of a gun? Shouldn;t be all that much harder and the results are more or less guaranteed. Your way just legitimizes Whahabbis, Hezzbolah and the Muslim Brotherhood as leading political parties.

markg8 said...

"A secular society should care less about the religious beliefs of its citizenry."

Tell that to Bill O'Reilly and the rest of Fox New's pundits.

My post was intended as sarcasm in case you didn't notice David.

BTW AP reports the first results of Thursday's parliamentary election were released.

"With 89 percent of the ballot boxes counted in Baghdad province — Iraq's largest district — preliminary results showed the United Iraqi Alliance received 1,403,901 votes, or about 58 percent, while the Sunni Arab Iraqi Accordance party got 451,782 votes, and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's Iraqi National List with 327,174 votes, the electoral commission said.

The commission did not say how many people voted in Baghdad province or provide further details. Baghdad is Iraq's biggest electoral district with 2,161 candidates running for 59 of the 275 seats in Iraq's parliament.

Results from southern Basra province, also mixed but predominantly Shiite, saw the clergy-backed United Iraqi Alliance significantly ahead, winning 612,206 votes with 98 percent of ballot boxes counted. The list headed by Allawi, a secular Shiite, was in second with 87,134 votes, while the Sunni accordance party trailed with 36,997 votes.

Kurdish parties were overwhelmingly ahead in their three northern provinces."

I doubt most of the country folk are less religious than their city brethren so it's not looking good for secular society in Iraq.

Charlie Martin said...

I'm not at all clear how one "imposes" democracy. Could you possibly expand on the mechanism you've got in mind here?

David Thomson said...

“I doubt most of the country folk are less religious than their city brethren so it's not looking good for secular society in Iraq.”

This is a central reason why we must remain in Iraq (as we have in Germany since 1944) for the foreseeable future. The coalition’s troops keep the religious nut cases from violating the Iraqi constitution. Things are going very well, but I’m not naive. Nothing is ever certain.

Charlie Martin said...

Mark, your argument bites itself on its own tail: I'm confident that by far a majority of the voters in North Carolina are Christian, and a pretty substantial plurality are very conservative Christians (I've been a Buddhist voter in North Carolina, I know whereof I speak.) I'd imagine, from my experience there, that a pretty substantial plurality of the voters in Rhode Island are Catholics.

Are those not "secular" governments?

Because of the two-thirds requirement, and because it now appears (see my post below) that the Sunni want to be in the game, the most likely political balance will be that there will be a number of factions fighting it out politically.

Is it certain to work? Nope.

Helluva sight better than it was under Saddam and the Ba'ath fascists, though.

David Thomson said...

“I'm not at all clear how one "imposes" democracy. Could you possibly expand on the mechanism you've got in mind here?”

There are usually a number of people who already wish to embrace democratic principles and the rule of law. America can only offer the opportunity of a democracy. The rest is up to the general population to achieve this laudable goal. We simply must make sure that their opponents don’t throw a monkey wrench into the works. Our “imposition” is limited to those who desire to violate the rights of others. They cannot be allowed to interfere.

Charlie Martin said...

This is a central reason why we must remain in Iraq (as we have in Germany since 1944) for the foreseeable future. The coalition’s troops keep the religious nut cases from violating the Iraqi constitution. Things are going very well, but I’m not naive. Nothing is ever certain.

I think you're probably right, although in much smaller numbers --- perhaps more in Kuwait and Dubai or something. But we'll have to be there as logistic support, and like in Germany, as a "tripwire" against expansionists in Iran.

Russ_M said...

The argument could be made that the American Revolution imposed democracy upon the roughly 70% of colonialists who either openly opposed the change or were indifferent.

MeaninglessHotAir said...


Yeah, except for those who, not wanting democracy, fled to Canada, only to discover it caught up with them after all. Oh well. Couldn't fight the tide of history.

truepeers said...

Well, MHA, those Loyalists who fled to Canada (and many places else - perhaps a third of the American colonies' pop. opposed the Revolution) were, I think one might generalize, less in flight from a certain kind of democracy as from a revolutionary republicanism that would force them to give up certain imperial dreams and accept a new kind of nationality as a core identity.

I see the primary cause of the revolution as having been the refusal of the English to share their parliament with the Americans, in what was a cogent understanding of the ties between democracy (such as they had) and nationhood. What was so well-rooted in the British culture (in the nations joined together as Britain) was a sense of a nationalism that depended on such exclusions, a nationalism that no sense of British imperial destiny ever managed to transcend. Which is why Canadians, so many of whom wanted (more than the English ever did) to believe in an imperial destiny, well into the 20thC. (and still do, in the guise of multiculturalism and internationalism), eventually had to accept, albeit halfheartedly, a sense of their own national destiny.

It is perhaps essential that democracy in this day and age first find repose on a bedrock of national identity. It is the consequent fear of change in core identities and the unwillingness to believe that people can effectively rule themselves without a strong hand guiding them that is still the problem today. Many many people seriously believe that Muslims, especially in the Middle East, are slaves/Loyalists to the Koranic word, or its interpreters, and so a democracy that would put up a wall between politics and religion is bound to fail.

I suppose I am just enough of a Canadian to not totally discount that argument, though more of an "American" in that I believe the secular truth can distinguish itself from the religious even there (and without denying the religious), if the people are given the time and the chance to throw the monkey of dictatorship and Caliphate dreaming off.

There are many truly imperialistic (such is the left) Americans like Mark who wouldn't give them the time. Though I would agree with him that the most certain (not most likely) route to democracy would be through mass conversion to Christianity. He says he was being sarcastic about this, so we can't criticize the inanity of the concept of a "forced" conversion to Christianity or Judaism (and the model of nationhood inherent in the JudeoChristian tradition). But even sarcasm should make some sense.

markg8 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
markg8 said...

I don't think you can impose an ideology at the point of a gun. Not communism, whahhabism or even democracy. I would think the failure of the USSR would have taught everybody that.

We did lead half of Germany back to it's constitutional roots with the help of the Soviet boogeyman looking over their shoulder providing an excellent example with their fellow countrymen of what their alternative fate would be. And with the vocal support of the emperor of Japan we were able to help establish a parlimentary government in Japan, again with the boogeymen of China and the USSR in the neighborhood.

In Iraq we apparently play both roles: either accept our way of government or we will kill you.
I would hope our civil affairs officers and military trainers are telling their trainees,
"the sooner you guys get this right,
the sooner we can get out of your hair and go home."

Syl said...

Do we have to put up with this 'point of a gun' crap?


We toppled Saddam. After that the guns were pointed at the insurgents and terrorists.

No guns were ever pointed at the Iraqi people.

And it's the Iraqi people who are building their own democracy BECAUSE THEY CAN.

Syl said...

But, addressing the main point, democracy by itself is not the is only a part of the process.

Democracy with capitalism is the combination that will move the Arab world towards more separation of church/state. Under capitalism the individual is much more important and sancrosanct than the group. In fact, most of them will be too busy making money and the notion of moving up the ladder might actually, after centuries, take hold in the region.

There will be another way to a better life than merely through corruption.

As their lives improve, they will reject anything that interferes, and be too preoccupied with their comforts to care that much about a caliphate anymore. Or, more realistically, the ones who don't care about a caliphate will actively work to discourage those who do.

If we weren't laying the ground for capitalism in Iraq (property rights enforcement being major..though I was disappointed we didn't fund the establishment of 'zip' codes which are necessary for credit card processing) a purely socialist system might emerge which is more amenable to a strong leader and centralized govt and doesn't bring with it the incentives for individual endeavor.

And it's the emphasis on individuals and what they want and need that will break the cycle in the M.E. in the long run.

Hope I made sense.

Syl said...

There will be another way to a better life than merely through corruption.

Corruption and tribal connections.

JB said...

"A secular society should care less about the religious beliefs of its citizenry."

'Tell that to Bill O'Reilly and the rest of Fox New's pundits.'

Tell it to the ACLU and every leftist that screams bloody murder at every innocuous vestige of traditional, non-PC religion in the public sphere.

Redneck Texan said...

How exactly does imposing Democracy on the Middle east make us safer?

If imposing Democracy on Palestine bestows legitimate power on Hamas is that a good thing?

If imposing Democracy on Egypt enables the Muslim Brotherhood to make policy will that make the Middle East a safer place?

Is a Hezbollah controlled Lebanese government in the best interests of the US?

Wouldn't you rather have Musharraf's finger on Pakistan's Nuclear button than a freely elected popular Islamist?

What is the Jewish nation of Israel going to do when Muslims become the largest voting block?

Warlords are setting in the Afghanistan Parliament today because of imposed that how we define Victory in Afghanistan?

We overthrew a secular dictator in Iraq and handed power, the power to control voter's minds, over to a couple of Shiite Clerics. Is that what we had in mind when our troops headed north out Kuwait 3 years ago?

Putting the control of a government in its citizen's hands is only a good idea when the majority of those citizens are not religiously brainwashed idiots that vote however their Cleric tells them to.

Some people say that Iran is not a Democracy, and they have a point in that even though I think Ahmadinejad legitimately won a fair popular vote, and honestly reflect the Persian's cultural values, the list of candidate was vetted by the Guardian Council, But the worst thing that could happen for the US right now would be for Iran to become truly Democratic. Does a Nuclear armed Democratic Iran scare the hell out of you any less than a Nuclear armed theocracy. Could the US or Israel justify attacking a fellow, we would never find any support for that, but dictators...its always open season on Dictators.

Most middle easterners associate Democracy with prosperity, and due to their non-productive cultural values, and in the case of Afghanistan lack of natural resources, they are going to be disappointed with Democracy as it will fail to produce a middle class there compared to how it worked in more productive cultures such as Western or Oriental societies. Capitalist Democracy while it may be the perfect form of government for our cultural values, may not in fact be the best form of government for the Islamic world. There are cultural reasons why they have not achieved Democracy on their own, and those same reasons might make Democracy unsustainable in the absence of our firepower and financial aid. Maybe there is a good reason why they have historically been ruled by an oppressive dictator....maybe thats what they deserve.

Maybe, if we can artificially sustain our imposed Democracy on the Arab world long enough for several election cycles to reveal to themselves that voting for the most anti-American Islamist on the ticket accomplishes nothing they will wizen up and vote in a more secular slate of candidates, but with the Nuclear genie finding its way into their culture that is unworthy of wielding it as a deterrent....I don't think we are going to have enough time to find out.

JB said...

Values can change, RT; Iraq will be the catalyst of a process of transforming regional values.

Democracy must be imposed on the ME because the status quo is unacceptable. We are not safer with, as Mark Steyn puts it "(he may be ours, but he's still) a sonofabitch".

Dictators get overthrown anyway. "Stability" isn't stable.

The process of managing the transition involves more than voting, obviously. It's a multipronged process that may not be obvious in shorthand rhetoric.

Nevertheless it is happening if you bother to look for signs.

markg8 said...

Well put RT. And if you think fundies in this country are bad wait until they get ahold of American cultural values in Iraq. Sistani don't cotton to "democracy, whiskey, sexy".