Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Teach Them to Elect Good (Non-Islamist) Men

If we can re-win in Iraq, reduce Iranian influence there, and restore our efforts to build a functioning democracy in Iraq, we can yet help the Arab Moslem world escape the dismal traditional alternatives of autocracy or Islamism for governance and exploit the earnest if vague yearnings for democracy that the Arab Spring revealed.

I am not demoralized by the failure of the Arab Spring in 2011 to inspire immediate progress for democracy (and the necessary rule of law). I am encouraged that people expressed a desire for democracy even if they had a weak understanding of what that requires. At least these protesters did not call for religious dictatorship as an alternative to autocrats.

This project to undermine the appeal of jihadi thinking that reappears from time to time and which one day could involve WMD as it spills over into the West, is a long-term struggle that requires our support to reinforce indigenous efforts to reform the Moslem Arab world.

Strategypage discusses the problem:

Moslems in general and Arabs in particular have developed a peculiar relationship with democracy. Since the 1960s, when many Moslems were able migrate to the West, millions of Moslems have come to understand democracy from personal experience. They did this either by moving to live in the West, or being visited by family or friends who had and were eager to explain this curious but wonderful form of government in great detail. As a result of this opinion polls in Moslem countries have shown a growing approval of democracy. This was especially true in 2011 after the Arab Spring uprisings. But since 2011 that approval of democracy has dimmed a bit as Moslems unaccustomed to running a democracy found that doing so was not easy. A majority of Moslems still think democracy is the best form of government, but a quarter of Moslems also believe that democracy may be unsuitable for Moslem countries at this time. This disappoints and confuses many Moslems. They can see that democracy creates superior results where is has been established, but the process of getting democracy to work reliably is a lot harder and more difficult than many Moslems originally believed. This is largely because of some unique problems in Moslem states.

Do read it all, as the expression goes.

This is a necessary struggle and the forces in the Moslem world resisting reform are strong. If we don't win this struggle, we'll have more (and worse) war in the future.