Friday, February 03, 2006

Democracy Matters, part 2

In doing some more thinking about the democracy issue in Palestine, I must point out that there is the chance that Hamas will turn it's back on it's terror past and work towards rebuilding Palestine from the rubble that Fatah had left it in, and hopefully work alongside Israel in this regards. But considering there terrorist past, I'm not holding my breath for this. That being said, the Likud was originally Menachem Begin's party, and his Irgun- Jewish terrorists- eventually joined the Israeli government and Begin became Prime Minister of Israel. Irgun was never heard from again. So there's always the possiblity of terrorists disarming. But I'm not holding my breath.

The other issue that I've seen arise is that somehow, democracy matters little in the Global War on Terror. There are posts at National Review Online from Ian Murray , John Derbyshire , and Andy McCarthy discussing the merits of promoting Democracy abroad, and in the GWOT. They basically say that Democracy, while worthy, is a bitch to establish in an area of the world that doesn't necessarily have it, will take a long time, and shouldn't be the main focus on the GWOT. They believe that the search for WMDs and terror networks should be.

To start off, I think it's a mistake to go the WMD/terror network route as the primary route. Make no question, denying the terrorists those type of weapons and diluting and/or destroying networks is something that needs to be done. No one wants to see rouge states selling Al Quaeda or Islamic Jihad nuclear weapons. And we want to destroy Al Quaeda, as well. But that's only a facet of the arguement, since, as they have said, there are alot of other terror networks that exist, and it's unrealistic to destroy all of them. This is where their arguement fails- the first part, is that they're clearly looking at the GWOT position from a very presentist standpoint: Iran. They're trying to take what was a democracy + WMD + terrorist issue for Afghanistan and Iraq, and turn it into a rouge state + WMD + terrorism issue with Iran. I'm not saying they're not right or wrong about it, but rather, that its the wrong arguement to make.

Ultimately we're going to face another one of their myriad terrorist groups, fighting Al Quaeda all over again. That's what their future leaves us with- playing whack-a-mole for the next 50 to 100 years. Now, what happens if you change the conditions in the middle east, make a middle class a viable option and foriegn policy in the hands of elected lawmakers whose jobs rest on not pissing the world off (and in turn pissing their bosses- the people- off)? Is terrorism more or less of a proposition in those regions? Hell, let's put it this way: now that Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia are moving towards their own version of democracy, where are the terrorists? Maybe they're getting funding from those countries (they're definitely still getting funding from parts of the Saudi Royal Family). But are they having a grand old time on the ground? Hell no. In Iraq and Afghanistan, they are facing off against the American army and getting their asses handed to them. But more to the point, they've been totally rejected by the Iraqi and Afghani people, who really don't want a Shari'ia Islamic state and have lived under tyranny for too long to like it. The Iraqi and Afghanis are fighting their own battles against the terrorists. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is ostracized, and terrorism will be seen in the light of the bombing of Rafiki Hariri, their former Prime Minister. And the Saudis? In the midst of fighting what amounts to a civil war with Al Quaeda, they pulled a 180 and moved towards democracy- still fledgling- but a move nonetheless.

So, where does this leave us? With fledgling democracies. Yes, it'll be a bumpy road, and it won't be American or even European style Democracy. But does anyone see these nations wanting to openly or even covertly fund terrorists? Heck no. Muslim terrorism works on feeding off of resentment and hate- especially towards the west. The NRO writers are forgetting a key part that makes democracy work: Capitalism. Giving each person the chance to make their own life in economics goes a long way towards solving the problems of the middle east, which has economies that became stagnant a long time ago. Al Quaeda themselves have admitted that the democratic movements have hindered them greatly- almost as much as fighting the Americans.

One of the NRO writers said that exporting democracy fails for the US- and uses Haiti as an example. That's nothing but a straw man arguement, Haiti is a former french colony that quite frankly, isn't worth the US putting alot of money into(and we haven't, like we are with Afghanistan and Iraq). Haiti just can't survive as a soverign nation like Portugal or Singapore can. It should have been absorbed into a larger coalition/conglomeration a long time ago, but the anti-colonialist mentality we're in will keep that from happening for the entire Caribbean. Thus using Haiti as an example completely pulls it out of it's context, and tells me that the NRO writer wasn't even attempting to play fair. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to see Haiti become stable and democratic. What about 2nd world countries that we could elevate to 1st world democratic and capitalist societies? Taking a third worlder like Haiti is ALOT more of a pain in the ass than taking Italy, Germany, Japan, South Korea, El Salvador, and the Phillipenes and turning them into soverign democratic/capitalist states. Did it take time? Yes. Was it worth it? Yes. Will we be right all the time? No- Cuba and Vietnam were clearly mistakes. But my point is, is that none of those states will turn back to their barbaric pasts, nor would they even consider supporting terrorism. It's concievable that individuals within those countries could pull off terror cells within those countries, but the govermnents and police structure are actively searching for them. It's alot harder to pull terrorism off in countries that don't want it.

This brings me to my last point: the Global War on Terror is about many different things. On one hand, it's about removing rouge states that have WMDs that want to sell it to terrorists. On another hand it's about destroying terrorists. And lastly, it's about bringing democracy to the regions of the world that could concievably be state sponsors of terrorism. Al Quaeda and its ilk worked well in the 1990s only when they had explicit state support. You need all three strands (and there are prob more that I'm not thinking of) in order to combat terrorism. The NRO writers are probably right- we won't be able to destroy terrorism. We haven't destroyed Naziism or Communism. It's still there. But we can certainly destroy it's ability to project itself outward. There hasn't been an attack on the US since 9/11 for a reason. They can't reach us. And I'm sure, after London, they won't be able to reach the UK again. Same with Russia after Beslan.

It's almost as though the NRO writers are disdainful of the prospect of freeing the middle east from the funk it's been in since the inception of Arab nationalism. Like the region's not worth it (btw, I'm not sure that' s not some sort of passive view of "damnit, they're not us. They're poor muslim arabs! Screw them! They shouldn't get what we have!" mentality in there, and that saddens me). And they're despairing at the long term goal of eliminating the ability of the terrorists to project themselves- as if that's nothing but a pipe dream. They want something more local- fighting Iran and Al Quaeda. That's fine and well, and I want both the local and long term goals, but their viewpoints will do nothing to change the situation. In 10 years from now, if we fought like they wanted us to- we'd have another dictatorship in Iraq, Afghanistan would be a morass again, and we'd still have Al Quaeda to fight. We'd have given AQ setbacks, but the conditions in the Middle East would be the same as it was on 9/10. This would be like doing just an air war over Germany in WW2- it'd probably destroy significant parts of the Wehrmacht, but it wouldn't destroy Germany. We'd still be fighting them. We'd still be fighting the terrorists too, only they'd have a leg to stand on.

Democracy matters, folks. It's at least more hopeful for the middle east than what they had previously. It might seem quaint- and it might create a new form of democracy- but it's not unattainable. Only those with short visions fail to see what Germany and Japan have become.


Post a Comment

<< Home