Thursday, January 5, 2012

Republicans and 'democracy' in the Middle East


This has been annoying me for a while now. 

Republicans cannot condition support for democracy in the middle east on the basis of our personal affinity for particular ideologies. If the party is to stand for democracy in Iraq, it must also accept the need for Palestinian democracyEgyptian democracy and democracy in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Without honest, genuine support for democracy across the Middle East, Republicans have a total lack of credibility to argue that america's foreign policy is centred around promotion of freedom. In this hypocrisy, Republican candidates serve to provide politically astute adversaries like HAMAS, Hezbollah and the Sadrists, with talking points to suggest that the US only supports those with whom it agrees. In an inescapable sense, this feeds traditional extremist narratives hostile to US interests..

IE -  the argument - 'Don't trust or work with the Americans or their agents, because they have no interest in your welfare but instead only care about pursuing a blindly, pro-Israel agenda'. This narrative serves to unfairly deligitimise the nature of America's regional actions and relationships.

Aside from the diplomatic damage caused, such wilful contradiction between words and reality, ultimately undermines the cause of freedom itself (to which america's extremist opponents in the middle east are ultimately ideologically averse). Supporting democracy does not mean that we should automatically agree with other democracies, but it does mean that we accept the notion that popular power is at its basic but ever developing level, a good thing.

The central point here is that if republicans still believe in democracy as a moderating force (the underlying premise of the Bush ideology that Republicans have overwhelmingly supported since 9/11), then in favour of an ultimately more just, peaceful and stable middle east, republicans must be willing to accept that in the short term, while democracy may not always produce results that we would like, it is crucial to stand in support of freedom.

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