Blending Democracy

Blending Democracy

Mini Teaser: The political soil of the Middle East has not been tilled by the Western Enlightenment. Growing democracy there must take this into account.

by Author(s): Dov S. Zakheim

Patience is especially not a characteristic of the neo-Wilsonians who would reshape the Middle East. Particularly in a part of the world that measures its history in centuries and millennia, patience is essential. Rapid upheavals have rarely yielded the results America hoped for: not in Egypt in 1953, not in Iraq in 1958, not in Iran in 1979. The stakes in the Middle East are as high as they ever have been. We should be careful that our best intentions do not lead to disasters that will take decades to undo.

1. In order to win Islamist support for the measure, the government included in its new legislation the requirement that women voters and candidates conform to sharia law and values. Presumably this meant that if they were not dressed in accordance with those values, they would lose their eligibility to vote and stand for office. The legislation passed with the religious proviso intact, but none of the Islamists voted for it anyway.

2. Helena Cobban, "U.S. Should Support All Democracy, No Matter Whom It Brings to Power", Christian Science Monitor Online, June 9, 2005.

3. Morton H. Halperin et al. argue that democracy promotes economic development more than autocracy does. Yet they are forced to acknowledge that authoritarian China has been able to harness the capitalist system more effectively than democratic India. See Halperin, Joseph T. Siegle and Michael M. Weinstein, The Democracy Advantage: How Democracies Promote Peace and Prosperity (New York and London: Routledge, 2005).

Essay Types: Essay