The IEDs on Democracy Road

The Third Reich is the best example. Following the failed beer hall putsch in November 1923, and his trial and imprisonment at Landsberg, Hitler took another road to power: the democracy road.
While engaging in street fights with communists, the Nazis built their numbers and national support politically until, in 1933, Hitler, now leading the largest party in Germany, was called to the chancellery by President Hindenburg.

Within weeks came the Reichstag fire that Hitler seized upon to consolidate power and imprison his enemies. But, repeatedly in the 1930s — after both the reoccupation of the Rhineland and the Anschluss with Austria — Hitler would hold plebiscites to permit the German people to show their approval of his regime.

Each time, Hitler won more than 90 percent of the vote.

Thus, Hitler came to power through a democratic process and used democratic forms and procedures to maintain a dictatorship. The point here is the one made by T.S. Eliot in 1939, the year Hitler ignited world war. Wrote Eliot:

“As political philosophy derives its sanction from ethics, and ethics from the truth of religion, it is only by returning to the eternal source of truth that we can hope for any social organization which will not, to its ultimate destruction, ignore some essential aspect of reality.”

Came then Eliot”s jarring conclusion: “The term “democracy,” as I have said again and again, does not contain enough positive content to stand alone against the forces you dislike — it can easily be transformed by them. If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God), you should pay your respects to Hitler and Stalin.”

Eliot”s point is this: Without a broad-based belief among a people in the dignity and worth of each man and woman as a child of God, thus having inalienable rights no state can violate, you risk a Hitler coming to power — should you entrust your nation”s fate to whatever outcome the democratic process produces.

President Bush and Secretary of State Rice, in their latest rationale for the Iraq war — that it is part of a grand design to democratize the Islamic world — are taking the exact risk about which Eliot warned.

Neoconservatives, in their worship of democracy and utopian belief in its beneficent powers, refuse to entertain the idea that the very end they seek may destroy the dream they have. Perhaps they will hearken to the latest warnings about the potential perils of Islamic democracy — to the nation of Israel — from hard-right Likudnik Dore Gold, a close adviser to Ariel Sharon.

To encourage radical Islamist groups like Hamas to participate in the democratic process, Gold warns, “is a very dangerous option because radical Islamist groups have shown they can expertly utilize the language of political pluralism and tolerance without altering their highly ideological agenda.

“Forcing Egypt to accept the Muslim Brotherhood or insisting that Israel accept Hamas as a partner in a future Palestinian government will likely accelerate a radical Islamist takeover across the Middle East,” Gold warns.

As UPI”s Martin Sieff writes, Gold”s speech reveals a break between Israel and the White House over Hamas” participation in the January Palestinian elections, should Hamas refuse to give up its weapons and renounce its goal of erasing Israel from the map.

Gold echoes arguments others of us have made since Bush declared democratization of the world, beginning with the Middle East, to be the overarching goal of U.S. foreign policy.

In the Middle East today, there are no true Arab democracies. And in authoritarian regimes that do not tolerate opposition parties, it is usually the outlawed parties with the greatest discipline and dedication and disposition to rebel and resist that thrive.

In Lebanon, under Israeli occupation, this was Hezbollah. In Gaza and on the West Bank during the second intifada, Hamas showed the greater spirit to kill and die. In Egypt and Syria, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood sustained its unity and discipline best under the Mubarak and Assad regimes. In Iraq, the Shia fundamentalists of Ayatollah Sistani used free elections to capture the country. And in Iran, Islamist militants used recent elections to recapture power.

Moreover, in all Arab countries, anti-Americanism is rampant and hatred of Israel universal. And among the Arab masses, the potential new voters, the belief in Islamic fundamentalism — in imposing sharia law, denying other faiths equal rights or any rights, confronting the Americans and Israelis — is strongest.

Neoconservatives burbling about the benefits of democracy in the Middle East remind one of animal rights activists who demand “Freedom Now!” for our four-legged friends. Perhaps they should think again, before throwing open the cages in the lion house.

To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at