|Quoting 11Bravo (Reply 3):|
Until such time as there is a realization that religious doctrine must be a personal philosophy rather than a basis for governmental structure, the Middle East will not embrace what we think of as “democracy and freedom”. That is the fatal flaw in Bush’s belief in the power of democracy.
Sadly, your reasoning seems impeccable.
I think that the President has his heart in the right place. He wants the Middle East to be "conquered" by nothing more than democracy, much as democracy made Germany and Japan its own. He is genuine in his belief that the Middle East can benefit from what has helped America succeed so well in a mere two and a half centuries -- constitutional, representative democracy.
But no constitution is worth the paper it's written on if the ideas it reduces to paper aren't already well-respected, or even well-established. Before our own Constitution was written, we had the Articles of Confederation, which were but a first draft that, even in our relatively favorable position as heirs of the Enlightenment, faltered and ground to a halt. If even a nascent country such as ours, helmed by men of learning and good will, and already aiming toward a genteel life of refinement, was unable to avoid error, then what hopes are there for lands in which the predicates for democracy simply do not exist?
Germany and Japan both had traditions of scholarship and social cohesion. In Germany, those in power in the 1950's found their intellectual foundations in a tradition of reason, in Protestant values, and in Goethe and Beethoven. But more importantly, beyond the sphere of intellectual elites, there was a nation that saw inspiration and legitimacy in responsible permutations of traditional, deferential German values, or, rather, its combination with the enlightened values of the West forced upon them by defeat during war. With these, Germany could effectively function and build upon a common foundation in the form of a democratic consensus of core values the vast majority found acceptable. In Japan, a similar respect for authority and social cohesion meant that disorder and personal desires were stoically subsumed to fealty to the building of the state, in lieu of, and as a sublimination of, outright submission to its Emperor. Such values were imposed through benevolent dictatorship, under an occupational force from the West remarkably sanguine about democratic values -- and in its case, justifiably so.
There are plenty of other countries, however, in which the foundations for democracy not only did not exist; but there existed not even the building blocks from which it could be formed.
To some extent, democracy can be imposed, and it was
imposed, in countries, such as Germany and Japan, where foundational values supporting it were at best frail, and at worst destroyed, albeit not irreparably. But imposition can only go so far; when the people themselves cannot see any way to build a common consensus, there can be no democracy.
Thus, we will fail to build democracy in the Middle East unless the people there themselves understand the need to set aside competing values and ideologies. If they cannot, then the best we can hope for is an uneasy truce, followed by periods of war, until someone, somewhere, and enough of them, learns that to build is more valuable than to destroy, despite being a thousand times more difficult.
[Edited 2006-02-14 01:53:15]
What's fair is fair.