Friday, September 28, 2007

Sense and nonsense about Democracy in the Middle East


A recent debate aired by NPR exposes the weaknesses of Western approaches to democracy in the Middle East.

The debate asked the question:

Is it really in the United States' interest to promote free elections in countries where the most politically powerful groups may be fundamentally anti-American and undemocratic?
...the formal proposition was "Spreading Democracy in the Middle East is a Bad Idea."

The usual people were invited, and gave the expected sorts of answers. For example, Flynt Leverett stated:

While there is no evidence
that democracy reduces the incidence of terrorism, there is ample evidence -- from places like Egypt and Saudi Arabia -- that holding more open elections in these and other societies would produce governments that are more anti-American than incumbent regimes ... The best hope for modernization, and ultimately liberalization, in the Arab and Muslim worlds today lies in incumbent regimes who recognize that, first of all, economic modernization is essential to their country's future."

Continued here.

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