Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Downplaying of Democracy

This was going to be a column, but I already have another one written for next week, so it goes on the old blog as is.

"America, by decision and destiny, promotes political freedom — and gains the most when democracy advances." - George W. Bush

As Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale instructs, it is difficult for the masses to admit to being completely duped. Of course, it is always easiest to prophesy after the fact, but Governor Bush's quote implies heavily that while dethroning the despot Saddam and ridding him of the weapons of mass destruction he didn't have provided the reason for the invasion, at least insofar as the American people were concerned, the high churchmen of the "Global Democratic Revolution" were always anxious to spread the evils of their particular form of government.

I can claim absolutely no affinity for our present political system, and have long found it suspicious that Bush and Co. have staked their legacy—to say nothing of the longterm wellbeing of the United States—on the fortunes of democracy in a region of the world which has never known it. Even supposing that democracy were to take root in the Middle East, it doesn't take a rocket surgeon to realize that allowing a group of people, who do not like America or her policies, to choose their government will form one which doesn't place a priority on American interests.

Fortunately, the neocon revolutionaries are starting to rethink their blind allegiance to democracy. Recently, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan declared a state of emergency, suspending the constitution and invoking martial law in the process. Quoting (Emperor) Lincoln, who knew a thing or two about running roughshod over a constitution, Musharraf compelled the Bush administration to choose between loyalty to an American ally, and paying respects to his god, Democracy. In so doing, he has thus far prevented a takeover by forces hostile, not only to Musharraf, but also to the United States.

I am by no means an expert on Pakistan, but the little background information which I can provide may prove valuable. Unlike Iran, which is still years away from acquiring a nuclear weapon, Pakistan already has them. Further, Pakistan, Musharraf included, has been a valuable ally in the War on Terror. Justin Raimondo notes, "[The Pakistani government] has captured more al-Qaeda leaders than all the Western intelligence agencies combined... has stood by the U.S. since Day One of the post-9/11 era... [and] is now being swamped by growing anti-American sentiment and religious fervor." Contrary to the delusions of the insensible optimists, the surge isn't working and things are still going very badly in the region. In short, we need a pro-American Pakistan far more than we need a pro-democracy Musharraf.

For once, reason has won out. The administration has expressed its disappointment, but the aid to Pakistan will continue. This doesn't represent a break with U.S. policy—American presidents dealt with Stalin and Mao, two of the most evil men who have ever lived. This is nonetheless big news for the Bush administration. Musharraf is not a terrorist, and he is hardly even a dictator—yet. But his present rule is antithetical to the primary goal of Bush's revolution, and Bush's toleration is indicative of a much welcome, albeit slight, tempering of hubris.

Democracy has been given far too much good press. Its failure at home is readily apparent; all the important decisions are made by unelected Judges, and the two parties are so near-aligned as to be all but indistinguishable. Meanwhile, purple fingers aside, democracy has not spread like wildfire in the Middle East. Idealism has its merits, provided the ideals are good; but the spread of democracy is not always concomitant with, nor should it be more esteemed than American interests. At least in this case, autocratic rule is to be preferred to that of the mob.

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