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05 January 2016

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David Lentini

Amen!

Jag Pop

"Neocon thinking"...

What tale had the appropriate line...?
"He is so devilishly sneaky that even he doesn't know what he is going to do next."

Did the Neocons ever really believe in Democracy? Maybe they told themselves that they did (maybe), but never admitted to themselves what they were really planning.

The Neocon "Democracy" was always - always - simply a Trojan Horse for Hegemony.

Knock it down and then install a Hamid Karzai (Afghanistan).
Knock it down and then install a Chalabi (Iraq).
Knock it down and then install a Khalifa Hifter (Libya).
Knock it down to empower Western leaning Fouad Siniora (Lebanon).

Democracy meets Hegemony
births Demony

Linda Lau

I agree with what you say about western democracy, but I think they want more than safety. I think they want to be able to live their lives without fear and have a fair chance at achieving what they work for, I.e. Without overwhelming government corruption that can affect them very personally.

Cold War Zoomie

There is no substitute for living in foreign lands, and immersing yourself in other cultures. Our "elites" are anything but. I have given up on our ability to govern ourselves much less conduct a realistic foreign policy. I keep telling myself that we have weathered the same amount of ignorance and delusion before but it no longer eases my sense of doom. Can someone please speed up the eventual implosion of our empire so we can start rebuilding here at home? Ugh.

Brunswick

Democracy is not something that can be imported, like IPhones and Bentleys,

Nor is it something that can be imposed from outside,

or "adopted" like a Chinese baby,

Democracy is a process, that has to be "home grown", and it has to be a product of gradual local reforms providing local solutions to local problems, and will produce, eventually a "unique" to the county form of democracy.

I very much believe that "democracy" is one of the keys to solving the problems in the ME, and that there are actions and advise we can give that will help, ( but won't), but it's up to "them" to create it.

Babak Makkinejad

All:

http://www.amazon.com/The-Tribe-That-Lost-Head/dp/1842321609

Babak Makkinejad

Yes, but at the individual level the courage that requires one to repudiate the lie that one is living does not exist.

You can blame government corruption, from Dhaka to Dakar, as much as you like; the people themselves are corrupt - there lies the problem - in my opinion.

chantose

Bunswick

I note that Iran does not appear in Col. Lang's list >Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon< of failed ME democracies, and I wonder if Iran's rehearsal of republican forms—albeit within a very limited civic sphere under parameters set by the various guardians of the revolution and faith—makes Iran the leading contender for a stable, self-governing, not-so-autocratic state.

It seems the forces of reaction and of reform put real effort into the parliamentary and presidential elections, even to the extent of stuffing ballots in one of Ahmadinejad's elections, so the results must have real consequences. Not to mention the maneuvering for the eventual election of a new Supreme Leader.

Persian Islamists appear to be different in this regard to Arab Islamists (Morsi, Erdogan) who slip the other way. Maybe this explains some of BHO's tilt to Iran?

kao_hsien_chih

I submit that the great delusion is that "democracy" is a natural state of humans anywhere. Western civilization has had a couple millenia to theorize about and practice "democracy" and "rule of law" in various guises, and we have had our own share of crises, not to mention that the functioning (or dysfunction) of our democratic politics has left many discontented and unhappy. Yet, we have trouble facing up to our own shortfalls to the "ideal" democracy and insist on hectoring others about those same ideals, in settings that are far less suitable for democratic rule, as if they are normal and natural.

kao_hsien_chih

PS.

What I meant above by democracy not being normal and natural is that, in order to get democratic politics to work, it takes tremendous work--as Ben Franklin supposedly said, "democracy, if we could keep it." The problem from thinking that democracy is natural and normal is that it encourages the belief that a society would simply transition into democracy on its own if you break the existing order.

J

The Neo types don't understand pecking order, Alpha order.

Degringolade

Right now I am reading Luttwak's "The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire". Now, maybe this is completely off base, but I think that the Neocons are attempting to use the Byzantine strategy of constantly playing one off another to keep the future "enemies" off balance and unable to effectively attack.

Not that they are doing it all that well, but it looks to me like that is what they are attempting. From all appearances, the Neo's could give a rats ass about Democracy, they just want to keep the pot stirred by any available spoon.

jim

I cannot speak with any detail about Indonesia the biggest muslim country in the world. But how would Malaysia fit in your world view? There is plenty of plurality there with its Christian churches, gay bars, casinos and race tracks. The Prime Minister is also currently being held to account over how he has suddenly become so wealthy.

walter

We continually overlook the fact that most of the world is not the product of both the Renaissance and the European Enlightenment, which serve as the foundation of modern Western values.

ex-PFC Chuck

re: "Did the Neocons ever really believe in Democracy?"

IIRC ever since Leo Strauss the neocons they were the recipients of insights into the Truth that we lesser beings were not capable of fully understanding.

oofda

Sorry to be off-topic, but news is out that the DPRK purportedly tested a hydrogen bomb the other day. If true, a very very serious development.

North Korea nuclear test: regime says it has successfully detonated hydrogen bomb
http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2016/jan/06/north-korea-major-announcement-artificial-earthquake-nuclear-test-site-live

bell

democracy hasn't solved the racial divide in the usa.. i doubt anyone is naive enough to believe it will solve everything in the middle east either...well, it's a good con that has been very useful for some..

turcopolier

jim

I was unaware that Indonesia and Malaysia are in the ME. Seriously, this is a different cultural area in spite of the shared religion. pl

different clue

oofda,

Well! . . . that certainly is "getting our attention". I wonder what Baby Kim will start throwing out of the crib if we refuse to believe it or be impressed.

Bill H

I think it could said of politics in the United States that it is a process which seeks "the accession to power of their own group whatever that may be," and of American politicians that, "to believe that they really want what you think of as democracy is to be dangerously and naively deluded."

Kerim

Thank you Colonel for your succinct and very didactic piece.
I-and most non ideologically blind people - in that region would completely subscribe to your analysis.
The ME is certainly not ready for democracy and will not be for several generations to come.
This impossibility of western style democracy is linked as you correctly state to the region's culture, recent and distant history, and memory.
The best that could happen to these countries, is if they have strong, ruthless but fair and enlightened leaders who are serious about getting their country out of ditch.

This being said, I believe people everywhere (not just in the ME) and in most situations want strong leaders.

Old Microbiologist

I worked many years in the Former Soviet Republics in Central Asia and it is exactly the same. After the fall of the Soviet Union these countries rapidly moved away from central Russian control and all of them are now under autocratic leadership. During the Soviet years leadership at institutes and ministries were by locals but always the second in command was a Russian who is the person who actually got the work done. Now the Russians are all gone and things have devolved into chaos much like happened in Douth Africa after the whites wer expelled. Working as a US senior govt manager for US funded projects I saw that under democratic relations no progress was ever going to happen. I adopted an autocratic approach with great success but to the horror of my fellow government handlers and was more or less fired as America doesn't use this approach in project management. I subsequently resigned from the other 11 projects I was directing and all of them have floundered without meaningful progress for the past 10 years. Burning money all the time of course. So IMHO our government has a fantasy about democratic leadership which form my experience cannot possibly work.

johnf

It could be argued that democracy is a peculiarly Scandinavian mindset. inherited by the Anglo Saxons.

Taken from them by the Normans, much of English history then became a battle between autocracy/Normans and democracy/parliamentarians. We fought a Civil War over it, and the slogan "Throw off the Norman Yoke" was heard from Naseby to the Chartists.

The concept of a return to the (supposed) pure, democratic Anglo Saxon Constitution was central to the American War of Independence. Jefferson believed the American constitution embodied it. That was why the first American warship was named "Alfred."

Maybe it is a peculiarly and particular Scandinavian concoction. The French have applied it fitfully. The Germans have had it imposed on them. It seems to be working well in India and South Africa (corruption not withstanding) and, probably, Ghana. Let's hope it survives the refugees in Europe.

As Chantose says upthread, it works in a limited sense in Iran and also in Russia. Maybe it will stick in South America. But whether it is a universal human system has yet to be proved.

Seamus

Democracy seemed to be doing okay in Iran before the CIA/MI6 intervention.

Russell

Pat,
"The truth is that the vast majority of people in the Islamic cultural area do not want to be liberated from their culture." But the culture is changing around them. This is not to say they will be adopting democracy.

Young Arabs from across the ME are texting in Latin letters with added numbers to represent sounds in Arabic not represented. I read an article in which a young girl from Dubai said she preferred this form of writing so her mother could not understand if she saw it. Regional dialects are more and more present in music, TV, radio, comics, etc. This is a slow earthquake under the feet of those that are extremely attached to the Classical Arabic/Coran cultural nexus.

There is a video on the net of a young Moroccan girl surfer. Her father and mother say in the video how much things have changed since they where young, things that allow a young girl to become a surfer.

I have seen a couple of articles of young people experimenting with other religions because of a certain fatigue setting in caused by decades of violence.

Something new is being born.

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