1/24/2006

Palestinian Elections Show Problem with Spreading Democracy to Fight Terror

When parlimentary elections are held Wednesday in the Palestinian Anarchy (as long as the only power comes from the barrel of a gun, calling it an "authority" is a joke) the flaw in the Bush Administration's strategy of spreading democracy as a means of fighting terrorism will be revealed. According to news reports from the region and the limited polling that has been done, the slate of Hamas candidates is poised on the brink of sweeping the current ruling Fatah party (which is not exactly a paragon of freedom and virtue) from power.

The problem with this is that Hamas, officially designated as a terrorist organization, remains committed to the destruction of Israel as their official policy. The fact that their candidates are likely to be voted into office poses this question: How does the US respond to an elected terrorist government?

Lest you think that description is too harsh, consider the case of Miriam Farhat. Known as the "Mother of Martyrs" (Mother of Cold-Blooded Killers Who Wage War against Innocents would be a more accurate title) three of her sons have, with her encouragement, perished in the intifada. Farhat is one of Hamas' candidates for office, and adamantly declares that her expected electoral victory will not mark any halt in the campaign of terror against Israel.

This puts the US in a box. We have, I think unwisely, declared the spread of democracy as our one of our primary goals in the war on terror. While fighting the war on teror on enemy soil rather than on our own is a good idea, this particular tool has severe limitations. Many of the countries that produce the majority of the world's terrorists (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan) as well as those that support terrorists (Iran, Syria) would in free and fair elections throw their support behind those committed to the Islamic jihad against the Western world.

We must find a way to spread the values of respect for life and freedom, or establishing democractic governments will not promote safety for us. It is not just our electoral system that the Middle East needs. (Which is not to say that mullahs and the oil sheiks should be encouarged to stay in power.) They need our pluralistic values and our principles of tolerance. We need to have teachers in their schools, programs in their media, seminars in the public square and widespread distribution of books and tapes and CDs and mp3s and websites. We must start promoting the ideals of freedom rather than simply the concept of democracy if we are going to ultimately change those countries and win the war on terror.

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