Saturday, April 30, 2005

Freedom and Justice in the Modern Middle East

I'm not sure I agree with Bernard Lewis here. I haven't seen anything indicating that democracy can be exported to the Middle East. The return of political Islam in Turkey, after almost a century of secular experiments, should serve as a warning:

The creation of a democratic political and social order in Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East will not be easy. But it is possible, and there are increasing signs that it has already begun. At the present time there are two fears concerning the possibility of establishing a democracy in Iraq. One is the fear that it will not work, a fear expressed by many in the United States and one that is almost a dogma in Europe; the other fear, much more urgent in ruling circles in the Middle East, is that it will work. Clearly, a genuinely free society in Iraq would constitute a mortal threat to many of the governments of the region, including both Washington's enemies and some of those seen as Washington's allies. The end of World War II opened the way for democracy in the former Axis powers. The end of the Cold War brought a measure of freedom and a movement toward democracy in much of the former Soviet domains. With steadfastness and patience, it may now be possible at last to bring both justice and freedom to the long-tormented peoples of the Middle East.


At May 02, 2005 1:40 PM, Blogger Gavriel said...

I'm clearly not the expert you are on this stuff, but I'm of the opinion that democracy can work here (in MidEast, outside of Israel too), but only in the long run. In the short run, it's start up costs will be prohibitive, with lots of carnage and chaos, since teh first free vote can elect some unsavory ideologies into power. Once the people discover they have to choose between semtex and butter, provided they fight hard enough for the right to choose more than once, things could slowly stabilize. I'm just not sure how high that initial barrier to entry is and what the price of surmounting it will be. (And if the rest of us have the patience and fortitude to get the region over it).


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