Politics and Professionalism
Small Rooms

Terrorism and Democracy

"... democracy yields peace and the best hope for peace in the Middle East is two democracies living side by side.  So the Palestinians had an election yesterday, the results of which remind me about the power of democracy."  So says my president at his news conference yesterday.  He continues to beat the drum that by bringing democracy to the Middle East, he will eliminate terrorism.

Quite coincidentally (since I'm several issues behind), I've just finished reading an article in Foreign Affairs pointing out that, on the basis of the actual evidence, "the data available do not show a strong relationship between democracy and an absence of or a reduction in terrorism. Terrorism appears to stem from factors much more specific than regime type."   The overwhelming victory of Hamas in the Palestinian election neatly underscores that point.

More striking than this rather unremarkable conclusion, however, is some of the polling data that the article presents on public opinion in the Middle East.   While there is general support for the notion of democracy, and a general belief that it can work in the Middle East, there is intense dislike of US policies.  The US is viewed most favorably in Lebanon, where 32 percent of respondents claimed to have a somewhat favorable or very favorable attitude toward the United States.  In Saudi Arabia, that response was 4 percent.  Four percent!  No wonder we're not so enthusiastic about promoting democracy in Saudi Arabia -- any democractically elected government there would be actively hostile to US interests.

W and his crew are so filled with righteousness that they've never been willing to look deeply into the causes of the intense dislike around the world for the US, and they blithely ignore the fact that in the past five years they have intensified that dislike manyfold.   As long as W continues on his present course (and I see no reason whatsoever to think that he will change one bit), he will continue to inflame those that hate the US.  But then, he's not really a "cause and effect" kinda guy -- I'm sure he sees himself as more of a "vision" kind of guy.  Those pesky facts musn't be allowed to get in the way.

Comments

Marcus

Oh Scott--You're so naive. Why bother with a silly little thing like "facts?"

One irony I have just realized: Conservatives for years have railed against "relativism" and "post-modernism." Right is right; wrong is wrong; and it's all black and white.

But the Bush administration has now abandoned "absolute truth" (and even the simple truth) in favor of "situational ethics." They define the situation how they want, regardless of the actual evidence.

Mark D

In some ways, I wish I could feel joy in all this. After all, during the euphoria of the quick victory in Iraq and Afghanistan it was my position that the results of this project would be the following:

1) If elections did come to pass in Iraq the new government would be dominated by SCIRI and Iran
2) The Taliban and bin Laden would regroup and prosper in Pakistan to fight another day and eventually topple the government there - thus gaining control of nuclear weapons (fortunately this last bit has not yet happened but the signs of the government's collapse grow daily)
3) The more radical groups HAMAS or HEZBOLLAH would take control of the occupied territories
4) Egypt would see the rise of the Brotherhood
5) Saudi Arabia would be destabilized

I did not however anticipate the rise of the radicals in Iran nor the relative calm in Saudi, nor did I anticipate the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon. I had also feared the collapse of Indonesia and that threat does seem to have passed. But those are minor points. The fact is we are loosing the war against radical Islam.

But this wave of radicalism has moved beyond the Middle East and Islam. Have none of you noticed what is happening to the south? There is a new wave of radical populism across the land. Venezuela and Bolivia have fallen, mark my words you will see similar results in Ecuador, Peru, and Nicaragua in the next 12 months. There is defeat on all fronts and Bush talks of victory everywhere. Bush talks of advancing democracy and freedom; yet warlords rule in Afghanistan, Pakistan stands on a cliff edge, Iraq is ruled by Iran, terrorists rule on the West Bank and Gaza. Meanwhile, Venezuela and Bolivia have allied themselves with Cuba. At home, a president defies the courts and congress, Americans are detained without trial, 80,000 Americans are banned from flying, court warrants are portrayed as frivolities of a past age, and countless thousands have died. This is victory? This is progress?

I leave you with this thought. In 1996 bin Laden laid out a manifesto laying out his plan. These were his stated objectives:
1) Separate America from it allies
2) Destabilize secular governments in the Middle East
3) Bleed money from America
4) Cause division within America itself

At the time, I thought him a raving lunatic. I had not anticipated that he would be aided and abetted by the American President. Which one of these objectives has he not achieved?

And for all this; Bush claims victory and progress. God save us all from more Bush ' victories.' Doug Thompson (who is insane himself) claims that Bush has gone mad. I am beginning to think Doug is right.

There are days when I feel like Casandra, does no one else see the danger ahead?

T Scott

You needn't feel like Cassandra -- many, many people in the US and around the world see things very much the way that you describe them. But the fact that most Americans do not trust W and do not believe that he's doing a good job is not enough to stop him.

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