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Monday, January 30, 2006

The Democracy Pandora's Box

News-First Class (Hebrew) reports (translated by Daily Alert):
Islamic movements throughout the Middle East are lifting up their heads after Hamas's election victory.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan is demanding "true democracy" from the Jordanian king in order to win in elections there, and is threatening a popular uprising if the government continues to ignore "the will of the people."
Here is another case where the President's mantra of "democracy" is boomeranging on him. The Egyptian elections were purposefully rigged, seemingly with the support of the US, to limit the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood; Jimmy Carter is enthusiastically supporting the new "moderate" Hamas; and now Jordan is in the sights of Islamic fundamentalists, using "democracy" as the argument.

It isn't democracy that is needed; it is freedom. If these Muslim states can live for a decade or so with a truly free press, equal rights for women, and the ability to criticize without fear, and then they decide they would rather live in a Shari'a state, that's democracy. Pushing democracy on people who are clueless about freedom is counterproductive and could be tragic.

Freedom should have been the stated goal all along, because now the US just looks hypocritical.

UPDATE: I saw this article after I posted:
Wednesday's Palestinian election, hailed by the world for passing without incidents of violence, was not the same as democracy, Likud Knesset candidate Natan Sharansky told The Jerusalem Post outside the Knesset on Sunday.

Sharansky, who wrote the influential bestseller The Case For Democracy, said that there should have been a process of democratization in the Palestinian Authority that culminated with an election, instead of holding an election that he said came instead of real democratic reforms.

"Democracy isn't hocus-pocus; it's a process," Sharansky said. "An election between a terrorist organization that wants to destroy the state of Israel and a corrupt dictatorship that does not care about helping its own people is not democracy. The results of the election were clean but it has nothing to do with democracy."