2 thoughts on “Promoting democracy in Dar-ul-Islam”

  1. I’m wondering what language
    I’m wondering what language Mr. Kalb finds bizarre. I ask this because the State Department official Richard Haass’s comments seem more moderate than President Bush’s recent official statement on National Security which reads like a call to impose American-style democracy on the whole world. Here, Haass speaks more in terms of lending support and encouragement to indigenous democratic developments in these countries.

    However, here is something that strikes me as particularly bizarre:

    “The United States will support democratic processes even if those empowered do not choose policies to our liking,” he said. “The United States is not opposed to Muslim parties.”

    This is American proceduralism taken to the nth degree. We would like the whole Muslim world to change its forms of government, BUT we have absolutely no interest in the substantive nature of that government. It could be a radical Islamist regime that believes in blowing up ancient Pyramids and Buddhist monuments, but as long as the process by which such a government is chosen is “democratic,” it’s fine with us. This is like Eisenhower saying religion is good, but he doesn’t care what kind of religion.

    Statements like this point to the utter strangeness of an American character that sees the world as a pure abstraction, and that has turned itself into a pure abstraction.

  2. It’s imperialism — setting
    It’s imperialism—setting up regimes we like in other countries—as therapy. Don’t be afraid, we’re just here to help you. Relax and trust us and we’ll help you solve all your problems. Why should anybody believe it?

    Do these guys in Washington have the least idea what politics is? As the quote you mention suggests, they really don’t. They’re wholly committed to the therapeutic attitude that what people used to think of as politics is really an altogether neutral procedure, a matter of experts giving their assistance to facilitate what the client really wants. Here are some other quotes I had in mind:

    “[T]he United States will work more energetically to promote democracy in partnership with the peoples and governments of the Muslim world.”

    “[W]e missed an opportunity to help these (Muslim) countries become more stable, more prosperous, more peaceful and more adaptable to the stresses of a globalizing world.”

    “Washington would not impose a rigid formula for political change but would work with individual countries to fashion their own unique representative systems from the authoritarian structures that he said now existed.”

    “Haass said Washington had no hidden agenda.”

    So we’re just going to establish partnerships to help Muslims fashion their own way of doing things that will be much better for them and us. They’d be unreasonable to refuse, I suppose.


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