Saturday, October 28, 2006

Will democracy cure terrorism in the Middle East?

Somewhere along the line in the so-called "war on terror", democracy or at least so-called radical democratization became the main goal of the "war on terror". For most Americans, the "war on terror" had been intended as an effort to subdue the people and group that executed the attacks of 9/11, namely Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. Shortly thereafter, the Neoconservatives attempted to shift the focus to include Iraq and other "states" that allegedly "harbor" terrorism. By the president's State of the Union address in early 2002, the war had been morphed to focus on the so-called "axis of evil", Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Purported weapons of mass destruction were given as the primary motive for subduing Iraq. In parallel, the definition of "terror" was expanded to include not only al Qaeda, but local terrorist groups such as Hama and Hezbollah, which have only been a threat to Israel and not to us here in the continental U.S. Somewhere in there, democracy and "freedom" came to be the main goals of the "war on terror."

The gist of the argument was that a democratic Iraq would inspire a wholesale movement to democracy in the Middle East. In theory, at least.

And, somehow, the spread of democracy would deter and supplant the momentum of the terrorists. In theory.

But now, as each increment of progress in democratizing Iraq is made, it only seems to incite ever more intense anti-American and anti-democracy sentiment among those most susceptible to to the appeal of terrorism.

Even if our democratization efforts were 100% successful, the associated result would be that terrorism would be even stronger in the Middle East than before.

So much for the theory that flourishing democracy is a great tool and strong deterrent in the "war on terror."

Further, a democratic election in Palestine brought Hamas to power fairly, and an election in Lebanon did nothing to sap the strength of Hezbollah. More evidence of the ineffectiveness of democracy as a deterrent against terrorism.

I think encouraging democracy is a wonderful goal and may in fact have some limited effectiveness against terrorism, but let us at least be honest and admit that it has little to do with combatting the type of terrorists who perpetrated the grand-scale attacks of 9/11.

Iran's alleged connections to Hezbollah are a concern, but only a local regional concern of the Middle East (and even then only Israel in particular) and have nothing to do with the security of the continental U.S. Once again, by all means we should be encouraging a more open democracy in Iran, but it has nothing to do with the security of the continental U.S.

In short, democraacy cannot by itself cure terrorism in the Middle East. At best it is only a partial solution, and it may not in fact be the proper starting point.

-- Jack Krupansky


At 11:46 PM , Blogger Dan said...

Good post and I agree in part.

However, Israel is a democracy in the area and an ally and deserves our support. Also, as a Christian, I believe God calls us to support Israel to our peril.

Genesis 12:1-3
1 The Lord had said to Abram..."I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you...3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." (NIV)

At 1:58 AM , Anonymous Jack Krupansky said...

I would agree that Israel deserves our support, but only partially and to the extent that it serves U.S. interests primarily.

I acknowledge the rights of citizens to pursue positions that derive from their religion, but I also believe in a strict separation of church and state, so that the political agenda and policy actions of the U.S. cannot and should not be driven in any way by strictly religious beliefs.

We should support any and all efforts by Israel to negotiate peace with its neighbors, including Iran, but we should withold support whenever Israel adopts policies which are detrimental to peace.

As in the U.S, the people of Israel are divided into two camps (actually quite a number of camps), so that right-wing hawks seek to pursue policies that cause left-wing pragmatists to cringe in horror (as in the U.S.)

It is a huge mistake for the U.S. to be taking sides in Israel's regional disputes.

Yes, Israel is a democracy, but as the Bush administration has demonstrated through its own actions, even democracies can pursue agendas and policies and strategies and tactics that sensible people should disavow.

-- Jack Krupansky

At 11:36 PM , Blogger rick_randy said...

Democracy has many tools that can be abused by groups with subversive intentions. this is more apparent in the middle east compared to the west. there has to be more safe guards to ensure that the common citizen understands their rights and the rights of others around them including their neighbors. this is where state and religion should be separate and effort must be made for the citizens to know why this has to be so in order for democracy to work properly. it does no good setting up a government without knowing the citizens it serves as much as the citizens should know how it relates to them and why. democracy is not perfect but it gives a chance for the common folk to voice their concerns and rights.


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