Sunday, January 02, 2005

Democratization or what?

It sounds like Dr. Emile over at Chronicles is advocating all out war with Islam (though I suspect he actually making a larger point, but still):

Let's stop pretending that prosecuting a war on terrorism is about doing anybody any favors and patting ourselves on the back about democratizing anything. These fantasies are abject, counterproductive, and dangerous. The policies this philosophy has spawned are not working in the favor of pluralists in Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, etc. It costs nothing and means almost as much to say that "we should support pluralists in the Middle East."

This sounds suspiciously similar to some hardcore conservative hawks I know who basically believe the “moderate Muslim” is a myth and that we should admit that the “War on Terrorism” is to some extent a “War on Arab Muslims.” However, they still think that democratization is a worthy project. I think divorcing the fight against Terrorism/Islamic-Fascism from a larger goal of democratization leads us down a dangerous path. And I think this shows a failure of some (not all) on the Left to articulate a viable plan for the War on Terror or the War in Iraq.

Dr. Emile also states:

On a wider level, there is a direct and totally quicksanding contradiction at the heart of the democratizing strategy in the war on terrorism. Terrorism has little - not nothing, but little - to do with root causes and democracy, it has nothing to do with the "core of the Islamic world"

I would say this is highly debatable, and again sounds like some conservatives who also think that “terrorism” is not about root causes but about an evil ideology that needs to be wiped out. And there is some truth to this ideology theory. But Freedom House has noted:

Freedom House survey data also shed some light on the debate about the relationship between the lack of political rights and civil liberties and the growing threat of international terrorism. According to a Freedom House analysis of global terrorist attacks of a five year period from 1999-2003, 70 percent of all attributable deaths by terrorism were perpetrated by terrorists and terrorist movements originating in Not Free countries. By contrast, only 8 percent of global fatalities from terrorism were perpetrated by terrorists and groupings with origins in the free world. "This suggests that the expansion of democracy and freedom is an important component in the international effort to rid the world of the terrorist scourge," said Adrian Karatnycky, principal analyst of Freedom in the World.

Freedom is hard to quantify, but Freedom House’s index seems to be the only one out there and is a useful tool. They make it clear that even if the root cause of terrorism isn’t lack of democracy, democratic countries are much less likely to produce terrorists. I still contend that democratically elected governments are better for the world’s long term security than totalitarian or theocratic regimes, and are better for the citizens of those countries--that goes for our current “allies” Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. The question is how to best achieve this. There are no easy answers. the approaches will vary with each country, nor will the U.S. be involved in every case. But democratization should be our long term goal.

I think the first question we must ask is what countries currently pose the biggest threats. For these countries, like Iran and North Korea, I think we need a more aggressive approach, that doesn’t necessary mean using the military; it could also mean employing an aggressive diplomatic approach or supporting democratizing elements within a country, as was recently done in Ukraine. For other countries, the approach might be more long term, like encouraging market reforms and actively engaging the country at the economic and diplomatic level like China or Saudi Arabia (though I don’t think we are putting enough pressure on the Saudis). As for Iraq, what choice do we have but to help rebuild the country, encourage democracy, and provide security? Would leaving now just ensure that Iraq would slip into chaos and/or become a pawn of Iran?


At 1:25 PM, Blogger Dr. Emile Bessels said...

Read my reply here:

Here's an excerpt:

I do not advocate war with Islam, far from it. What I advocate is total war with those who attack America (bin Ladenists, jihad internationale, those planning attacks on civilian targets in Europe, etc., who are not the "core" of the Islamic world) and the fostering of pluralism around the globe by means other than war in all other cases, except when there are massive crimes against humanity.


Post a Comment

<< Home