Wednesday, March 09, 2005

"This Is No Arab Glasnost"

. . . the best shot of realism I've seen in a few weeks:

The Arab leaders have worked out how a democratic gift-horse is
never looked in the mouth. So many in the West are easily hoodwinked by just the
semblance of democracy, as long as it helps them win arguments with opponents
back home.

Economic development, human freedom, full property rights and a
pluralistic political culture are the conditions for democracy. They can grow,
but, without them, any democracy project will fall. So we are still at stage one
in the Middle East.

And any chances of proceeding to stage two mean keeping up the
pressure - and not being fooled by decoys thrown up by Arab despots.

Spreading democracy is the only way to win the war on terror. We
are, alas, still a long way from this victory.

There's a fundamental cultural chasm between the Arab world and the West that will never be reconciled; we are seeing a flurry of people power in the Mideast that has yet to feel the harsh realities of an Islamic backlash.

The region may seek to adopt a veneer of political modernization, but it will not likely westernize. Any movement toward liberalization is a good thing, and worthy of our war effort, but the best outcome won't meet the standards of secular democracies.

Channeling the energy of religious fervor and sectarian hatred inwards towards political goals within the context of a system governed by man's laws, fairly adjudicated, is the best result for these countries.