Thursday, October 17, 2013

Clifford May: The Other Long War

This is a good one. 

I can't tell you how many conversations that I have had with people where I try to explain that "democracy" and "elections" mean nothing if totalitarians are democratically elected.


But some people like the words, the sham-they feeeeeeeel good about there being "elections" in  Gaza, and even in Russia.

But as May points out, when we in the West talk about democracy, we are not speaking the same language as liberals in the West and as the average person within the Islamic world. For much of (or perhaps we can finally say, most of) the Islamic world, democracy means the "freedom" to elect sharia-based governments. We do not define "democracy" in the same way.

He notes:

"Without individual and minority rights, majority rule establishes a tyranny of the majority — not much improvement over other forms of tyranny. What we should mean by democracy is liberal democracy — a system in which the government guarantees basic freedoms."

Individual liberty, and individual property rights are the basis of democracy. Without these two factors, there can be no democracy. 

A further example:

"Democratic outcomes require democratic inputs."

"A few years back, I served on a bipartisan “democracy panel” reporting to then–secretary of state Condoleezza Rice. She was enthusiastic about the elections the Bush administration had midwifed in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon."

"A few of us were unconvinced: These elections would be counterproductive, we predicted, so long as there was no freedom of speech, press, and assembly; so long as one political party — Hamas in Gaza, and Hezbollah in Lebanon — was also an armed militia, not to mention a terrorist organization.

"Rice responded by saying, in effect: “One step at a time!” In retrospect, I think it’s clear she was wrong (and we were right)."