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The Therapy Sessions
Thursday, February 24, 2005

The downside of democracy

Democracy is not all good. In its rawest form, it is nothing more than mob rule.

In the midst of the euphoria over the successful Iraqi elections, we need to remember the reason we were forced to go into the Mideast in the first place: this is a deeply diseased region. Decades of dictatorship and censorship has caused irrational levels of rage in the populations of many of these countries, and we can't remove every dictator out there.

Eventually, the people may get their voice and vote. But the danger is that they may only get one chance to vote: the same kind "one time-one vote" elections that brought violent dictators like Hitler, Milosevic and Arafat to power.

In their rage, they may vote themselves new dictators, worse than the ones they replace.

Joseph Braude has an excellent article on this:
The stakes in Egypt are higher than some might realize. The apparent success of the Iraqi elections--despite sweeping gains by Shia Islamists--might incline some Americans to believe that Islamist victories are an acceptable price to pay for the arrival of democracy in Muslim countries. And in some places, they'd be right. Egypt, however, is different. By contrast to some Shia Islamist parties, which began making conciliatory gestures toward the United States months before the invasion of Iraq, the Muslim Brotherhood--a Sunni, Egyptian-dominated international movement--has been ratcheting up its anti-American rhetoric. Just a few days ago on Al Jazeera, I watched Abd Al Mun'im Abu 'l-Fattuh, a Cairo-born leader of the organization, affirm his support for the Iraqi insurgency, restate his opposition to the Camp David accords between Begin and Sadat, and appeal for nationalist-Islamist unity in the Arab world in order to confront 'our real enemy,' the United States.

Democracy is a necessary - but not sufficient - prerequisite for healthy development in Mideast.

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