Friday, November 20, 2009

Can the Middle East be Democratic?



Now, as tempting as it may be to let that statement stand for itself, people generally like to see some sense of example/argument to back a statement up, particularly in this type of format.  So I will.  Parts of the Middle East are already democratic, yet the western world tends not to recognize that when elections don’t produce favorable results, and point to “democracy” in other parts of the world that doesn’t exist.  For instance, Yasser Arafat was always derided, yet he was democratically elected.  Democratic elections occur with regularity in the Palestinian territories.  They will elect a Yasser Arafat or Hamas, as in Gaza.  Elections in Lebanon sometimes elect moderates or pro-American candidates, but often allow a strong showing for Hezbollah.  Democracy doesn’t cease to count as democracy if you don’t like the results.  But in terms of a stable, western-style liberal democracy, there is a ways to go before we see that widespread across the region, a few things will need to happen.  I say a few because it is a relatively short list, yet each one will be very difficult and require a lot of work.  The first is very simple.  You cannot expect any kind of stable system if you cannot provide basic services to the people.  So the first step needs to be rebuilding the infrastructure of the nations of these nations.  You need to be able to provide water, electricity, and roads to the people, and they need to work, before you can legitimize any kind of rule.  Second, you need to create stable economic conditions in a country.  As Richard Nixon so eloquently put it, you can “make the economy scream” until a democratic regime falls.  And finally, if you can have both at the same time, great, but otherwise, opt for glasnost before perestroika.  Establish liberty firmly and democracy is likely to be stable when it follows.  Establish democracy without liberty and you are likely to lose it with great speed.  Checks on power are the best thing possible for stable government systems.  A society with free speech, free religion, free press, free association, etc is much more likely to successfully preserve a democratic system than one with out it.  And there you have it, a stable, liberal democracy filled world in three very difficult steps.


So this is the part where you say I’m a moron and completely wrong…


  1. I agree! I feel the middle east can be democratic. After reading the special report on the Arab state, I feel that complete democracy of the Arab State is completely possible. However, I believe the problem for the Arabs is that they simply do not believe in the system of democracy. When one is raised in a certain form of government, they become accustomed to the rules and regulation of that government structure and format. Thus, it is instilled in their mindsets to do what they been exposed to and that is NOT a democratic form of government.

  2. You're a moron and completely wrong... (couldn't help myself!)

    You raise some really good points and I think that you make a good case against mass media in the process. It's interesting, I think the mass media portrays the "Arab world" as this less civilized, bunch of maniacs running around with no "governments worth consequence" (as according to the West, media, American elitists, or whatever you want to call it). Though, there could be some truth to the whole government thing in a few of the nations, specifically ones that have yet to create an infrastructure capable of providing basic needs to their citizens (as you stated).

    I am pretty sure I just rambled there, but. Whatever!

  3. I would also agree with you Chazz. Democracy is a very real possibility for the Middle East but is in no way inevitable. Whether the impetus comes from outside or from within the democratic values that we hold is high esteem can take root in the Middle East. Those that say it is impossible are as wrong as the 'experts' that said democracy could not be established in post Nazi Germany or Post War Japan. Both of which are strong democracies and strong allies of the U.S.