Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Democracy and Islam

Last February, when I first started to blog, I warned that Democracy Isn’t Enough. For democracy to function properly there must be an appropriate cultural foundation. I argued that most radical attempts to transform a society into a liberal order fail on the first try. While I considered the January election something to cheer about, I realized no matter how honorable our actions were we, nevertheless, are engaged in a bold experiment of cultural transformation. The key obstacle is Islam.

A recent article on TCS describes the challenge of introducing democracy in an unrepentant Islamic culture. The author discusses the examples of Egypt and Algeria. Iraq may or may not be as bad; but only time will tell. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t valid strategic reasons to be in Iraq. However, an all-or-nothing goal of liberal democracy is over ambitious and over generous. Our quick fix will get them going, if all goes well, but in the long run Islam and Arab culture will be a quicksand if Islam is left unchallenged. Let hope they take advantage of our generosity.

Rancher is optimistic as is Tom Palmer who recently visited Iraq (see his answer to my question at the end.) However, Mark Alexander reminds us of the problem.


Blogger LA Sunset said...

Democracy is the thesis and Islam is the antithesis. Polar opposite political philosophies that will probably never blend well, unless Iraq is a success. If that happens, one can only hope that Iran is next. (But surely, you will forgive me if I am skeptical, on that one.)

The key is, we cannot withdraw until Iraq is ready. If we do and the terrorists destablize the new government, Iran could pose a miltary threat to Iraq and the region. Since most of the insurgents (at least the ones doing the bulk of the damage) are Sunni, the Iraqi Shiites may find solace in their Iranian Shiite counterparts. Shiites will turn to Shiites, not infidels.

But it's really hard to tell just what is going to happen. That's why a lot is riding on this election. The only thing we can be certain of is the chaos that will result in pulling out too soon.

What the world needs to hope, is that this experiment in Iraq works. Because I shudder to think what will happen, if it goes the other way.

12/14/05, 10:21 PM  
Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Good points.

Sunni jihadists can not be allowed to win. That would certainly galvanize the jihadist movement many orders of magnitude more than 9/11.

Let’s hope for the best but make sure the worst is avoided. I think we are doing far better than what I initially feared, before we entered Iraq.

12/15/05, 9:35 AM  

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