Thursday, May 04, 2006

Democracy, Terrorism and Corruption

Hat tip to Cox and Forkum for the cartoon. You can read their related commentary and links HERE.

Our troops should have been allowed to kill this guy when they had the chance. Instead, he's been made a member of the government, and now we are seeing the awful consequences. Here is a partial quote of an excerpt Cox & Forkum printed from the LA Times:

Sadr's followers, who control as many as 35 of 275 parliament seats, representing working-class Shiites in eastern Baghdad and the country's south, already hold the ministries of health and transportation. But they are eyeing education, youth, commerce, agriculture and electricity as possible additions to their portfolio.

Iraqi and Western officials have criticized the ministries under Sadr's control during the last year as corrupt and ideological. Doctors, nurses and pharmacists say the health system is poorly run and deteriorating. Sadr's loyalists in the Transportation Ministry have removed alcohol from airport duty-free shops and put portraits of ayatollahs on the billboard in front of the Baghdad train station.

The thirtysomething cleric and his fast-growing movement have become a formidable political force. They agreed to forgo claims on the important ministries of interior, defense, finance, oil and foreign affairs and instead focused on building up power and patronage through public-sector jobs and services.

"We prefer to control only those ministries that serve the Iraqi people to build a strong base," said Fadhil Sharih, one of Sadr's deputies. "We will also be directly involved with the Iraqi society, to listen to their needs and serve them."
The formula is similar to the tack taken by Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories...

(bold emphasis theirs) The biggest problem the Middle East faces in trying to build democratic societies isn't terrorism, as much as it is corruption, although terrorism and corruption often work together.

Liberals keep saying "You can't IMPOSE democracy onto people from the top; it can't work that way." Therefore, they say, we shouldn't even try... of course, they don't have a solution, other than saying we shouldn't try. But many contemporary "liberals" don't like democracy anyway; it just interfers with their leftist agenda.

Pre WWII Japan had no democratic tradition. We crushed them, imposed democracy on them, wrote their constitution for them, and sat on them until they learned how it worked. Today they are a strong, independent democratic nation and a good ally.

If we had not imposed democracy on them, the former facist goverment, with their shinto suicide-bomber religion most likely would have reasserted itself in another form that was even worse.

But we can't do that today, because of the Political Correctness of Multi-Culturalism, which is a favorite tool of todays political left. So the end result is, we have to include totalitarian dictatorships at the UN, and are expected to treat them as equals, and people like al-Sadr are encouraged to step forward and lead, when clearly he is a corrupt theocrat, at best.

I don't see why imposing secular democracy and the rule of law on people with no democratic traditions is such a terrible thing. People tend to want freedom, even more so once they have experienced it. Helping them to build a democratic, secular, non-corrupt representative government benefits not only them, but the rest of the world as well.

Of course I understand that the Middle East is not Japan. It is also gripped by a strong political/religious totalitarian pathology called Islam, which is no minor force to contend with. Because of this, many people say the thought of democracy in the Middle East is nonsense; it will never work.

With that sort of attitude, it certainly won't; it's defeatism at its worst. So what is the other solution? Tell me, what is it? The one that is better than trying to cultivate secular democracy in the Middle East?

We can't afford NOT to try; and try, and try again, until a way is found that works. If the effort we are making now fails, we must continue to try. If the rest of the world, the UN, backed us up in this effort, it would have a greater chance of succeeding. But that is impossible, as the UN is filled with undemocratic nations that have an investement in seeing democracy in the Middle East fail.

Perhaps the UN has limited use as an arena where we can talk to dictatorships and allies alike. But with so many dictators and totalitarians as members, it's not useful for accomplishing very much. So why must we continue fund it? We could put our money instead into another organization, that only allows members with democratically elected governments.

Democracy is not the answer to everything, especially if it just degenerates into mob rule. And many of our "democratic" allies aren't much better than enemies at times. But for all it's imperfections, democracy is better than any totalitarian system of government. Secular democracy, along with the rule of law, is always worth supporting. The alternatives are always too grim.

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