Drooling on the Pillow

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Fighting For Democracy 

Anyone who has bothered to pay attention to what the administration has said and done over the past four years knows that WMD were never the primary motive for going to war. They erred, perhaps in emphasizing them as much as they did, but, after all, they were the easiest of the casus belli for the public to understand and get behind, every security agency in the world agreed they were there and represented a real threat and there was political unanimity here in the US on their existence and the need to do something about them.

Since we didn't find them in the number and scope we expected, they're all you hear about these days from the opposition, as if that alone were evidence of the futility of the war or, more absurdly, the perfidy and disingenuousness of the Administration.

The other low-hanging fruit for the opposition is our involvement with some ugly customers in the Middle East in the fight against terror. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, notably, are cited as brutal and anti-democratic regimes whose cooperation comes at far too high a price. Our support for these thugs, kleptocrats and shifty mullahs taints any claim that we are the good guys.

Fair enough. It's good to remember, though, that the Islamic nations have been fighting a savage war with Islamists now for more than fifty years. We come to this party fairly late, but Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Jordan and the others have been involved in this fight and have been warped by it, for a long time.

They've been losing for a long time. There are democrats and reformers aplenty in the area. There are intelligent and thoughtful leaders. There is understanding of, and a yearning for, real democracy. It's not going to happen, though, without fundamental change and reform is virtually impossible in these nations as long as they face a popular and dedicated minority of politico-religious fanatics.

What has evolved among these nations is a host-parasite relationship. While the security agencies brutally suppress Islamists, the political leadership protects their power, preventing reform in the name of avoiding the ascendancy of the sharia. At the same time, 'understandings' evolve and the infection of the host proceeds apace.

Our support for these regimes goes back a number of decades and is based on the notion that 'stability' is better than anything that might follow.

It was the idea of George Bush and the dreaded Neo-Cons that, without offering the people of the Islamic world anything better this situation can only deteriorate until we are truly faced with a decisive confrontation between the West and Islamism. Why not try democracy? In a form adapted for local use, it could put into the hands of the Islamic world the one powerful tool that has never been employed in the battle against terror.

Tigerhawk looks at an editorial in the Lebanese Daily Star which seems to understand and agree with the fundamentally new approach the Bush administration has taken to these problems, without, of course, actually saying so.
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