A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
I look at the utter mess in Egypt and I think: THIS is what democracy has wrought!
OK. Before you climb all over me for my seeming put-down of democracy, hear me out.
I am now more convinced than ever that some people, some nations of peoples, simple cannot handle democracy. They are not ready for it. Some never will be. The grandiose idea that we, the US, can spread democracy throughout the world has proven to be America's bite too big to chew, and certainly, too big to swallow.
You would think after serial failures in the Middle East, notably, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Egypt, the US would recognize the utter futility of establishing an American style representative republic in any of those lands where Islamists hold sway.
Freedom is scary and it is dangerous. Even here in the land of the free, America, where a sizable portion of the citizenry's ancestors had freedom handed to them one hundred and fifty years ago, have yet to learn how to handle it. A century and a half later they still require help from the government that purportedly freed them. Being free is not easy.
In the Muslim countries of the Middle East, their definition of freedom is quite different from our definition. They have found their freedom within the confines of Shariah Law. True freedom, such as we enjoy in America, cannot exist in a state in which it must compete with Shariah Law. If you doubt that, look at Egypt today. It is a roiling inferno of religious passion, hate, lust for power, despotism, and control.
Imad Eddine Adeeb, an Egyptian columnist, in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat has said: "We lack the culture of democracy, and our institutions are still outdated, corrupt and decaying, operating with the same old administrative structures and tattered values and moral codes, all of which have nothing to do with democracy."
There are considered to be fourteen countries in the Middle East. Only two of those countries are electoral democracies. ONLY TWO. They are, of course, Israel and Turkey.
It seems that those of us in the west are just beginning to realize the unique challenges of bringing democracy to tribal societies. We are learning, much to our chagrin, that there are, in fact, some cultures that are simply not, repeat -- NOT, capable of creating a harmonious society of any kind, democratic, tribal, or otherwise.
A free election does not guarantee the voters in the newly democratic nation will not vote themselves a new dictator. We've already seen this happen.
My guess is that when all the smoke finally settles in the Middle East and the so-called Arab Spring has finally sprung, the world will be right back where it started -- or very near it. I expect "strongman" rulers in all the Muslim nations now in turmoil. Why? Because the people of those nations are just not ready for a government in which they, themselves, take responsibility for their government. Maybe in another century or two, but certainly, not now.
In the meantime, the US ought to stop meddling. Let them alone. If they want to fight and annihilate each other, more power to them. Let them have at it. If, and when, they strike out at us, smack them down -- hard. Otherwise, leave them alone.
Look, it is just extremely difficult for me to become concerned when I see the enemies of my country busily, and industriously, slaughtering each other. And it seems utterly nonsensical to me for elements within the US government to insist that we supply weapons to help one side, or the other, thereby inserting the US into the middle of a civil war that is, in fact, working to our advantage by decreasing the numbers of our enemies.
One has to wonder if Israel would not be better served if Assad's forces eventually win the ongoing conflict in Syria. Israel and Assad's governments know and understand each other -- and they know just how far one can push the other. A new Islamist dictatorship in Syria will almost certainly lead to war with Israel.
As we have seen, democracy did not lead to peace, love, and joy in Egypt. Why in the world would we think it would do so in Syria should the forces in rebellion to Assad win and decide democracy is the way to go for them, as well.
Yes. Democracy IS dangerous. Even a limited democracy, such as our constitutional republic can be dangerous. With all the checks and balances we have in the US, we have seen how ignorance can produce a socialist/Marxist government in America, the citadel of democracy, itself.
I am of the opinion that we Americans need to clean up around our own doorstep before we go meddling in other nations conflicts. We have enough problems to keep us occupied for at least a few decades.
© J. D. Longstreet
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