Thursday, February 16, 2006

More on Sticking it to the Man

Democracy Promoter








Jim Henley comments here on my recent critique of the Bush administration's effort to pursue in two contradictory policies in the Middle East: maintaining hegemony and promoting democracy:
Leon Hadar thinks Bush Administration foreign policy is like a TV commercial. Funny article. My cautions: We have to be very careful to separate out three distinct issues - whether itÂ’s good for the United States if Democracy spreads; whether the United States should actively push other societies toward democracy; whether the United States should fight wars to bring some form of democracy to other countries. My answers are: 1) All things considered, yes; 2) Sometimes maybe, though itÂ’s important not to get ahead of the cultural support system for democracy in any particular country - my preferred model is actually the AFL-CIOÂ’s work in Poland in the 1980s; 3) Man, what?

In the specific case of Palestine and Hamas, IÂ’m less convinced than Leon that the alternatives were viable. Having Hamas running a proto-country is not good. But IÂ’m not convinced itÂ’s worse than the US and Israel actively propping up a simultaneously corrupt and unreliable Fatah regime loved by approximately no one either inside or outside Palestine.

In the larger sense, my big concern is the mystifying leap from “Democracy is good” to “We need to shoot foreigners.”

Actually, as I suggest in a long article in the new issue (February 26) of the American Conservative, "Democracy & Its Dicontents" (not available yet online)we need to raise more than the Jim's three questions, including, for example, how do you define "democracy" and whether "democratic nations" (whatever that means) rarely go to war against each other (as the neocons and Democratic-Peace ideologues argue). In any case, the argument I made in my recent piece -- sorry if I'm repeating myself here -- wasn't that the spread of democracy is a bad idea in itself. It proposed that if the United States wants to be a Hegemon, the Man, in the Middle East -- it shouldn't spread democracy, because by doing that it would be like sticking it to itself. Now... I'm actually opposed to the idea of the U.S. being the Hegemon, the Man, in the Middle East. So from that perspective, whether Hamas or Lyndon LaRouche come to power in Palestine should be something that the Palestinians should decide on (which doesn't mean that they won't make self-desructive decisions). I've been very critical of American and Israeli policies vis-a-vis the Palestinians and I also regarded Yasser Arafat than nothing more than a gang leader. So... in short, Jim, what we need to discuss is not whether we need to spread democracy in the Middle East, but why are we in the Middle East and whether we should stay there. For than read my book, Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East.

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