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Promoting Democracy?
Promoting Democracy?
As we all know that the U.S. is trying to promote the “democracy” in the Arab World. According to the President Bush, as “democracy” grows in the Arab World, the region will stop generating anti-American terrorism...
Tuesday, October 9,2007 23:27
by Bahadir Dincer turkishweekly.net

As we all know that the U.S. is trying to promote the “democracy” in the Arab World. According to the President Bush, as “democracy” grows in the Arab World, the region will stop generating anti-American terrorism.(1) He insists that the policy is to seek and support the expansion of democratic institutions with the final goal of "ending tyranny" in the world. He claims that the expansion of freedom is essential for America’s security, crucial to the survival of liberty at home and in the world (!). (2)


In this regard, democratic peace theory (democracies rarely fight one another because they share common norms of life) is probably “the most powerful contribution to the debate of war and peace”. (3). In practical terms, theory provides an explanation for the belief that spreading democracy abroad will progress American national security and encourage world peace. If peace and security are the consequences of shared democracy, then international democratization should continue. But if democracy does not cause peace, then we can easily understand that the American policy makers are applying their resources on a policy that does not make America more secure, particularly in the Middle East.  At this point, in fact I believe that democracy can make a difference, can cause peace in the Middle East but:

In this regard, I would like to say something about the Iraqi case. Even if the democracy could reduce the numbers of terrorists in the Middle East, the Iraqi war was the wrong way to promote democracy. The main lesson to be learned from this case is that while the development of a democracy can be aided (not imported!) from outside, it can not easily be imposed by force. Some may argue that Germany and Japan became democratic after the American occupation. But at this point there is a nuance. Both in these countries there was no insurgency against the occupying forces and they were comparatively uniform societies unlike Iraq. 

Another problem for the US is that despite the claims in the favor of democratic governments in the Middle East, we can not see  remarkable signs that the US intends to push democracy in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or in Egypt.(4) There is a general understanding indicating that with the emergence of real democracy in the Arab World there seems to produce new Islamic governments which would be much less willing to collaborate with the United Sates than the current authoritarian rulers, that’s why it is really hard to see a consistency in the foreign policy of the US toward Middle East in terms of democracy.(5) In short, the problem with promoting democracy in the Arab World is not that Arabs do not like democracy. It is more related to that the US administration does not like the possible new governments which democratic systems would produce in case of a real democracy in the Arab World. 

On the other hand voting can not start the democratization process by itself. Democracy necessitates the individual rights as well as the development of effective institutions. I mean it is much more than just elections. Rather than that U.S. should focus on encouraging the development of different secular, nationalist and liberal political organizations. (7)  I am trying to say that the US should not support just the current regimes. Instead of that, she should support different kinds of political parties or organizations. By doing so, Washington can help to ensure that the results are at the interest of U.S. priorities and I think democracy can be developed easier by this way. (For instance in Egypt, Muslim Brotherhood is the only and the best alternative against Mubarak, there is no other alternative. If the US does not want MB, then they should try to help to the improvement of the others, as well). At the same time, in my opinion, the US should also manage some dialogue with religious based political parties like MB in Egypt. (I will mention this topic in another comment).

Some argue that the democratization (!) even has encouraged terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. Terrorism is generated from sources other than the form of the government of a state. (8) I mean the basic assumption of the Bush administration’s push for democracy in the Arab world in order to end the terrorism is a kind of a mistake. Yes, in the theory it might have some merits but in the practice they ignored the realities of the Middle East and Arab World. Policy makers should (have) be (been) aware of the complexities, diversities and sensitivities of the Middle Eastern and Islamic societies

For the policy makers, the first qualification should be being aware of these differences and complexities. Otherwise, all the conclusions, comments interpretations and ‘policies’ will be insufficient and inaccurate. If we take into consideration that Iraq and Afghanistan, the two countries invaded by the U.S. are consist of different tribes and ethnic groups and diverse religious sects, the U.S. policy makers should (have) pay (paid) more attention to the realities of the region to establish the suitable, peaceful and right systems in these countries.

Osman Bahadir Dincer

ISRO, Middle East Studies Desk

Washington DC.

[email protected]

1 (G. Gause, "Can democracy stop terrorism", Foreign Affairs, September 2005, p.62)

2 (National Security Strategy, March 2006, p.1)

3 (S. Rosato, The Flawed Logic of Democratic Peace Theory, American Politician Science Review, Vol. 97, no 4, November 2003)

4 (D. Hendrickson and R. Tucker, The Freedom Crusade, The National Interest, Fall 2005, p.12)

5 (Gause p.63).

6 (Hendricson, p.19)

7 (Gause, p.64)

8 (Gause, p. 67)

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