Wednesday, July 19, 2006

In Defense of Democracy

There's a particular argument that I've been hearing rather frequently lately, and it's beginning to get on my nerves. Here is one articulation, from the Shaigetz:
Democracy, the doctrine that claims to allow the masses to determine the general direction of their governance, has replaced religion for many as the panacea for all the worldÂ’s ills. A peek at the Middle East today should be enough to shake even the dimmest of brains out of that reverie....A group of bloodthirsty savages, believers in the Ashariyya doctrine - that because all that happens is caused by God anyway it is legitimate to kill innocents, will not suddenly turn into cuddly lambs just because they were empowered through a ballot box.
All right. Here's how it's supposed to work: The people vote and elect whomever they choose. If the elected leaders decide to interfere with the peace of other nations, those nations have the right to respond aggressively. After that, if the citizens of the new democracy don't like the consequences of their decision, they can elect new leaders who are more likely to protect their interests. It isn't neat. It isn't pretty. And, so far, there haven't been many signs that it is going to work in Iraq, Lebanon, or the Palestinian territories. But let's not forget that the old Mideast policy -- propping up dictators -- didn't work out too well, either. At least with democracy there is the possibility of peaceful change.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you know that I've been ambivalent about the Iraq war from the outset. I am ambivalent about most matters of U.S. and Israeli foreign policy, which is one of the reasons why you won't find much discussion of them here. All that I mean to say in this post is that I don't think the current situation in the Middle East warrants the conclusion that Arabs, Persians, etc. are inferior races incapable of self-government. (The liberal version of this claim is that we shouldn't interfere with other cultures -- because apparently oppressive, fundamentalist governments are fine and dandy as long as they aren't composed of white Christians. To this I say: When other cultures interfere with us, we have a right to interfere with them.)

Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I'll probably retreat back into the comfortable world of dessert recipes. For good, first-hand takes on the war, I recommend An Unsealed Room and On the Face (both blogs that I thought were fizzling out before the conflict). There are also some good reads on this Lebanese blog aggregator, including LP and Rampurple.

Also from Lebanon: A satirical TV clip making fun of Nasrallah. It apparently caused riots, which is all the more reason to watch it.

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