Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Spreading Democracy

I need to not post on here when my head isn't in it. Yesterday I had a feel for what I wanted to get out but I was distracted. It's not so much my consciousness that I might not be the only one reading this... but that it didn't meet my need to articulate what I wanted to say... and that's just frustrating.
It bugs me that this Administration is pushing this election in Iraq as a huge step forward... and it almost certainly isn't. All other considerations aside, significant numbers of Iraqis won't be able to vote... in this country as well as in Iraq. In Iraq this appears to impact mostly the Sunni population which isn't going to win a popular election anyway, but still...
Here in the United States there are five... five... registration and polling places. Throughout the Southwestern U.S. there are 70,000 ethnic Iraqis who must travel to the old MCAS El Toro site to register and then again to vote at the end of the month.
The White House has pointed to the alleged democratization of Afghanistan as a victory for us. Didn't Karzai campaign primarily in the capital and in Kandahar because he couldn't be protected elsewhere in the country? Oh, I know that there were a kazillion ballots cast and Karzai won by a huge margin. It happens. Wasn't there a precinct in Ohio that polled 117% of its registered voters?
Is it just me or are some cultures maybe not ready for democracy... or whatever we're trying to impose? Even with the tradition of the Magna Carta and British parliamentary process, wasn't the Massachusetts Colony pretty much a religious oligarchy that banished or burned people at the stake? Didn't it take us several decades to start to get things together?
How democratic is the assumption that we have everything so together ourselves now that we have the right and the duty to impose our will and our institutions on other cultures? How right is that?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re your final paragraphs: and who says democracy is the best political system for every culture? Neither the U.S. government nor the mainstream press, after all this time, has made any effort to understand Arab culture.

Who are we to say democracy must be their way of life? Maybe they've got another way they'd like to try in Iraq now that Saddam is gone. Maybe something other than democracy or a combination of systems or whatever they think up would a better choice.

We Americans haven't a clue as to Arab society, beliefs and cultural myths which, in Iraq, are the most ancient in the world. We have no business imposing our political system on Iraq and anyway, as you point out, it took a couple of hundred of years for our brand of democracy (there are others) to take hold, though I would argue that many steps backward have been taken in the past four years.

8:51 AM  

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