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Democracy not possible? What?

May 19, 2008 - Lee Smith
I saw some pinheads — read that a focus group of American voters — on a Fox News special over the weekend. They were discussing various national issues, as well as which presidential candidate offers the best arguments to address them. One of the most ridiculous comments, which has been made before, is that the Middle East just isn't ready for democracy, or can't handle it, or whatever. What!? The nation of Turkey, where Islam is prevalent, is a secular democracy and has been for decades. Israel is a democracy. Afghanistan and Iraq, both having held several elections, are democracies. The images of men and women in Iraq proudly holding up their purple thumbs after having voted is a stirring fact. Pakistan is struggling in its efforts to be a democracy, but it has record of holding elections and is on track to hold more. Lebanon is a democracy, struggling with an internal terrorist group — Hezbollah. It is true that criminal nations like Iran and Syria are not democracies. Iran is a Islamic tyranny. Syria is an old-fashioned dictatorship. Saudi Arabia and Jordan are kingdoms, more benevolent than some of their neigbhors, and also friendly to the United States. In general, the people of the Middle East are like people elsewhere. They want to live, to worship, to raise their children and see their children succeed. Democracy, alongside the rule of law, holds out the best chance for this. It also will reduce the threat from Islamic extremists, who will be marginalized in societies that permit voting and free expression. Right now, those extremists play on people's resentments toward their own governments, such as the Saudi royal family. While this criticism is valid in some ways, the extremists do not seek to replace the House of Saud with something that would closer approach freedom. Rather, they seek tyranny across the Mideast. If the American voters' criticism stems from the fact that an armed struggle exists in Iraq and Afghanistan, then we should remain steadfast in our support of these two emerging democracies. An insurgency is not a reason to give up. It is a reason to redouble our efforts to crush it, militarily and politically. One wonders if these same Americans would have surrendered our country to those who supported slavery here, simply because they were more threatening and ready to fight a Civil War. A belligerent deserves what he seeks. If tyrants and irrational fanatics can't live in peace with those who seek it, then they should be served with cold steel and hot lead.


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