Saturday, August 19, 2006
THE POWER OF DEMOCRACY & BIN LADEN'S DREAMS
Hezbollah, having officially won the Miss Pan-Arabia pageant by humiliating Israel, has donations pouring in not just from Iran, but from all over the Islamic world. They're already sluicing the cement for brand new bridges and apartment buildings, probably much nicer ones than the Israelis blew up. As of this tenuous moment, the only fighting going on in Lebanon is over rights to movie and endorsement deals for the Second Lebanon War. Meanwhile our pollyanna press is conspicuously not pointing out this fact: when Lebanon became a democracy, the press let every neo-twit shout it from a rooftop as an epochal event--one marking the beginning of more democracies and a peace which would sweep through the region. "We make elections," as Dubya hisself put it. At the time of that early Bush Doctrine victory, few questioned the wisdom of spreading democracy in the Mideast, and even a simple question like "who would they vote for?" was evidently too rude for public countenance.
Such votes allowed Hezbollah to become a well-represented political party, and it has either won or controls 35 seats in the Lebanese parliament. Come next elections in Lebanon you might well expect them to win a majority. Presto-change-o, Hezbollah isn't a terrorist organization any more; it's a real political party, perhaps to be a government. More recently in Palestine, the militant Hamas organization underwent a similar makeover. Actually, metamorphosis is a better word. The neo-twits have proved out right about one thing, power resides in the democratic process, and it seems to be repeatable. The smartest thing the Irish Republican Army ever did was finally form a chrysalis around its thugs, glue them to a solid object and wait for the Sinn Fein Party to emerge as a victorious butterfly.
Awhile back I read a book by Victor Davis Hanson, one of the neo-twits' leading intellectual lights. And I say that without irony. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Davis_Hanson .) The book was called 'Carnage and Culture,' and surprisingly, unlike every other of similar agenda I've ever touched, it was a serious work with well-founded premises. Even more surprisingly, I enjoyed it. Usually reading neo-twit screeds are like a trip to the dentist, a sadistic dentist with bad teeth and rusty instruments, a real incompetent butcher who chain smokes, laughs maniacally and won't stop talking...to himself. Kind of like Steve Martin's portrayal of a dentist in Little Shop of Horrors. Forgive me, I'm raving again. It's just that I made the mistake of buying Francis Fukuyama's 'The End of History and the Last Man' when it came out, at full price with sales tax, and have yet to get over the ensuing trauma. Maybe if his blithering puffery hadn't been taken seriously for the past ten years.
Anyhow, Hanson argues that when it comes to war, democracies play for keeps. Unlike other governmental forms, democracies publicly debate the decision to go to war, and when they go, they immediately risk their political existence. No small risk for an elected official. Democracies are thus far more effective than other systems, he argues, because they are willing to take and inflict higher losses, enjoy greater cohesion for the conflict's duration, and they don't give up easily. While you can take a good snipe at his argument, and not all history (especially recent history, like in our own country) holds true to his key premise, war is full of fairly serious matters and debating them amongst all stakeholders beforehand is an excellent idea. For example I expect that Hezbollah must have debated and prepared very thoroughly for this last war. As one Israeli soldier remarked with amazement on his return from some of the early fighting around Bin Jbail: "They're not scared of us!" The most lethal of all wars, Hanson notes, is when one democracy fights another, and nothing less than a miracle will preserve the cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon.
So now, having got what it wanted, why is the Bush Administration trying to kill its political offspring? They should be happy. Some people you just can't make happy. Sure, these terrorist organizations are enmeshed into governments, and that's too bad. Deal with it. In fact, why not deal with them as the political realities they've become? They want to sit down at a quiet table and discuss matters, and all the Bushies have to do for once in their fucking lives is be reasonable, compromise, and cut their losses like mature adults. Then they could play a deep game of containment against Pan-Arabism, like Eisenhower did with Nasser when corporate elites were calling for nukes over losing the Suez Canal. You remember, back in '56.
Oh, and one last thing: you can bet every remaining non-democratic government in the region, having been unceasingly yammered at by Bushbots to become democracies, are saying sage things like, "Condi, now you see who these crazy bastards will elect as soon as we take the lid off this place. It'll make Lebanon seem like Wimbledon." Ever wonder what Egypt or Saudi Arabia would look like as a democracy? Like Bin Laden's dream.