Friday, August 10, 2007

It takes more than just elections

The mainstream media finally notices what's been obvious for years: American support is the kiss of death to any political party or movement in the middle east.

We push for elections, elections, elections at any cost, in the naive hope that elections will turn societies overnight into peaceful, pro-American liberal democracies, willing to sell us oil at low prices. But without a stable society, the rule of law, an educated polity, and a commitment from that polity to the system itself, which requires a certain tradition of self-government--it's just a different way of grabbing and keeping power, the extension of civil war by other means.

It's not that Arab societies "can't handle democracy," a rather racist thesis; it's that their societies don't have the pre-requisites. The existence of a computer implies a certain level of technology; stable elections and orderly transitions of power imply certain levels of societal development. And societies don't go from tribal strongmen to liberal democracies overnight. Not even if Karl Rove says they have to.

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