Wednesday, July 26, 2006
They claim democracy is dead
Prof. Joshua Landis on Syria Comment (26 July) proclaims Assad to be the clear winner from the current mayhem in Lebanon. He vociferously defends authoritarian rule in Syria and the Middle East generally.
Here's my comment:
Death of democracy?
Joshua, you are right about one thing: the regime has survived to fight another battle. Let's not dwell on who engineered this dubious success and at what price to the Lebanese nation. Murderers can be brilliant at executing their plans!
As to the mix of arguments that you present in favour of autocracy in the Middle East, you overlook a key point. Democracy in the Middle East has been nipped in the bud everywhere it it has tried to establish deeper roots.
It does not suit Israel to have a democratically elected Hamas government because Hanniya has exposed her hypocracy and so she has undermined him by arresting his ministers, blasting his ministries out of existence and destroying the Gaza infrastructure with the help of the radical elements within Hamas. How could you possibly pass a judgment of failure on the Hamas government?
Lebanese democracy exposed the deep divisions within Lebanese society but that is no reason to destroy it as a mechanism for peaceful national dialogue. Hizbullah, Iran and Syria chose to fight their battle with Washington on Lebanese soil and with Lebanese lives. How could democracy develop against such wanton destruction?
In Iraq, democracy is not the cause of sectarian massacres but the American invasion and continued presence of foreign troops are. Had Saddam Hussein been a democrat, Iraq would have become one of most advanced nations in the Middle East.
In Egypt, Algeria and Jordan democratic elections revealed widespread support for Islamist parties. This was scary for the autocratic regimes and the West generally. However, the shift towards Islamist parties is a reaction to political corruption and economic failures. Jordan was wise enough to allow the Muslim Brotherhood to fight the elections and win. Now they have fallen out of favour with the electorate because, as it turns out, they do not have all the right social and economic answers to the country's problems.
I am surprised that you come out in favour of autocratic rule, knowing full well that it means a slow death for social and economic development. It is clear that despotism drives away the middle classes, stifles free thought and corrupts governments.
There is nothing inherently faulty within any society that prevents it from having an open system of government. There is something seriously faulty in the minds of those who think they can play God with the lives of other people.