Is this kind of “democracy” worth fighting and dying for?

Our neoconservatives are, of course, anxious to “liberate” and “democratize” Syria, too. If they succeed, God help the Christians there. No one else will.

If democracy means anything, it means rule by the people, i.e., rule by the majority. We Americans add that liberal democracy also means the minority has rights no majority may violate: freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of religion.

How many Muslim nations accept freedom of the press if it includes the right to call for regime change? How many Muslim nations protect the right to contradict Islam in the public square? How many Muslim regimes allow opponents to protest publicly and demonstrate against them?

Evangelical Christians have preached and proselytized in the Catholic countries of South America for decades. How many ever have done so in the Middle East? In many of these countries, to exercise what we regard as a First Amendment right is an invitation to a public stoning.

Where, from Morocco to Pakistan, do women enjoy the same rights as men in marriage and divorce? In Berlin, lately, three Turk brothers were charged in the “honor killing” of a sister living “a Western lifestyle.” In the Turkish community, the brothers had numerous defenders.

As President Bush campaigns for democracy across the Middle East, he might reconsider the consequences of a one-person, one-vote election in, say, Jordan, ruled by King Abdullah, a friend and a benevolent ruler who shares Western values.

According to a 2005 study by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, 100 percent of Jordanians have an unfavorable opinion of Jews, 98 percent regard Judaism as the “world’s most violent religion,” 60 percent have “confidence in Osama bin Laden to do the right thing regarding world affairs,” while 21 percent view the United States of America in a favorable light.

With such attitudes pandemic in Jordan, but also in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Morocco, a question arises:

Though President Bush says democracies do not go to war with one another, would free elections in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Morocco be more or less likely to produce a confrontation with Israel and a demand that the United States get out of the region?

 What did the spate of elections in 2005 produce? The Muslim Brotherhood swept 60 percent of the races it contested in Egypt; Hamas won an astonishing victory on the West Bank; Hezbollah and the Amal Militia triumphed in southern Lebanon; the Shia of Ayatollah Sistani and Moqtada al-Sadr emerged as the big winners in Iraq; and Ahmadinejad, who thinks Israel should be wiped off the map, won the presidency of Iran.

Is this kind of “democracy” worth fighting and dying for? And if this is what the Islamic world would do with greater freedom, why not let these folks, as did we, win it for themselves?