January 29, 2006
@ 12:30 PM

Sometimes I've seen the U.S. media take the simplistic view that "democracy" is the answer to all of a country's problems. I often chuckle to myself when I notice that in many cases the term "democracy" when used by the American press is really a euphemism for an American friendly government and way of life.  This is one of the reasons why I am unsurprised by the inherent contradiction in stories like Bush Says U.S. Won't Deal With Hamas which is excerpted below

Stunned by Hamas' decisive election victory, President Bush said Thursday the United States will not deal with the militant Palestinian group as long as it seeks Israel's destruction.

"If your platform is the destruction of Israel it means you're not a partner in peace," the president said. "And we're interested in peace." He urged Hamas to reverse course.

Hamas has taken responsibility for dozens of suicide attacks on Israel over the past five years but has largely observed a cease-fire since the election of Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas as Palestinian president last year.

Bush left open the possibility of cutting off U.S. aid to the Palestinians. He called on Abbas, a U.S. ally, to remain in office despite Fatah's defeat by Hamas in parliamentary elections. Abbas, elected separately a year ago, said he was committed to negotiations with Israel and suggested talks would be conducted through the Palestine Liberation Organization, a possible way around a Hamas-led government.

I guess that's one way of to finding out what the U.S. government really thinks about exporting democracy. American foreign policy has always been about supporting governments which support its policies regardless of whether they are democracies or brutal dictatorships. Heck, just a few months before the events of September 11, 2001 the United States government gave aid to the Taliban because they took a hard line position in the war on drugs.

Lots of people talk about democracy without really understanding what it means. Spreading democracy isn't about making the more places share American culture, it's about giving people the freedom to choose their way of life. The hard part for the U.S. government is that sometimes their choices will be different from the ones Americans would like them to make.


 

Sunday, January 29, 2006 2:25:17 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
I don't see the point you're trying to make by making bold that line in the quote. Abbas was elected in a separate (democratic) election as the very next line in your quote states and just because Hamas won the majority in Parlament doesn't mean he HAS to step down. Choosing to remain in office is no more non-democratic then it would be for a U.S. President to not resign if the opposing political party suddenly took control of the Congress. In the U.S. this NEVER happens and while I acknowledge that often they DO resign in Parlamentary systems they don't necessarily HAVE to in every Parlanentary system. Now I don't claim to be an expert at Palistinian politics so MAYBE it is REQUIRED that he step down, though I doubt it and the passage you've quoted doesn't indicate that. Maybe the Parliment has a way to remove him though again the passage you've quoted doesn't indicate that Hamas tried to exercise that and he didn't step down. It seems to me assuming that their Parlimentary system has to work like others in order to be democratic is very similar to how you apparently feel Americans expect them to work like our system if they are democratic.

I do agree however agree that many people seem to wrongly think that making the world democratic is going to make everyone our friends. If the entire world were to someday become democracies there would still be conflicts between nations, even wars. Democracies are made up of people who have interests and the interests of different countries often conflict. The world has a finite set of resources (land, oil, natural gas, etc.) and nations will fight over these. That said I DO believe that the world would be a better place if everyone had a say in what their nation does and no one was subjected to the rule of a ruling elite (be that a King, Dictator, single party, religious group, or other.) Democratizing the world isn't going to solve all the worlds problems, but that doesn't mean it's not a good ideal to strive for though either.

As for your Taliban example the Taliban were not terrorists. The Taliban was an oppressive regime that was targeted because they gave shelter to the terrorist group responsible for the Sept. 11th attacks. Had they handed them over after the attacks the U.S. probably would have let them remain in power. Citing an example of how the U.S. delt with them BEFORE they harbored terrorists that attacked us doesn't prove anything. The U.S. deals with oppressive regimes every day, just look at China. Hamas on the other hand isn't an oppressive regime, but they ARE terrorists and it's terrorists that the U.S. is targeting. There are two different U.S. policies in effect here, 1) spread democracy and 2) oppose terrorists. I believe both to be sound policies and while they do sometimes conflict they are NOT mutually exclusive and the fact they do conflict on occasion doesn't mean that either should be abandoned.
Sunday, January 29, 2006 3:30:02 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Jeez, Dare:

You're one of the smartest guys on the planet - what a statement.

They got their election, but you cant expect us to give them money too! I was a near victim of an eged (bus) bombing.

Im all for giving Hamas a chance to reforma nd join the civilized, but foreign aid, while they want to destroy my country, and kill my people?

Give me break, dare.
Sunday, January 29, 2006 6:51:43 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)

Alan,

The irony is that the murders and bombings against the Palestian people are committed officially by the Israeli government while terror attacks against civilian Isreali populations are committed by rebel groups such as Hamas and others.

It looks more like one state (Israel) is not just a state sponsor of Terrorism but is actually a Terror State while the other has a legitimate right to resistance even though their military weakness has them resorting to terror tactics.

The "Peace Plan" should begin with Israel moving back to its original 1940's boundaries and agreeing in principle to a right of return for the Arabs pushed out of Israel during the ensuing wars.

If the United States wanted real "peace" in the middle east it would force Israel to the original borders, support a new Palestinian state and require that both states give up their nuclear and other stockpiled weapons of war. Let the USA patrol Jerusalem as they patrol Iraq now and try to keep the peace between these two bitter and enstranged cousins.

Joe Somebody
Sunday, January 29, 2006 7:10:48 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
There is no relation between democracy and US support.

Democracy is the right of people to choose their own government, which Palestinians have done. By the way Joe, Hamas has no interest in pushing Israel back to previous borders; they want it eradicated, believing that all of the land belongs to Islam.

The US is under no requirement to support that government, or to give them financial aid. To so would be to tacitly support the destruction of Israel. By the way, Europe and Israel has given the same statement as Bush has - no dealing until they recognize Israel (from today's NY Times front page).
Monday, January 30, 2006 5:36:13 AM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
Washington DC, the Capital of democracy is the home of almost 600,000 citizens who have no Congressional Representative with a vote on Capital Hill. Due to an anachronism in the Constitution, the voters all pay taxes, and elect a Representative, but that Representative has no vote on the floor of the House.

Join true patriots who fight for democracyand an end to Taxation without Representation in Washington DC!

Andy Catanzaro
President, Stamp Act Congress
Monday, January 30, 2006 6:16:50 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
"Lots of people talk about democracy without really understanding what it means."

Yup. I participate in a grassroots election reform group. Domestically, there's little agreement about three things. 1) What is democracy? 2) Who gets to participate? 3) What makes an election open, fair, and verifiable? It's kind of sad that the "birthplace" of democracy has so little introspection into the matter.

I read "Democracy in the Developing World" a few years back. Democracy isn't an either-or thing. I now see it kind of like a collection of cultural attributes, like a tech-tree in real-time strategy games, such as Civilization. (My inner geek shining through!)

Even better, the scholars now pretty much understand what makes democracy work and flourish. Rule of law, fair and impartial courts, freedom of expression, the usual... What America has done since Bush The Lesser stole the 2000 election is the exact opposite of what works. In fact, everything Bush The Lesser has done has harmed democracy. Case in point: By labeling Iran a member of the Axis of Evil (whatever that is), Iranian hardliners were able to sideline the reformers (a nascent home grown democratic movement). Smooth move.

---

Democracy in the Developing World: Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0745621422/
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 9:39:38 PM (GMT Standard Time, UTC+00:00)
++++I often chuckle to myself when I notice that in many cases the term "democracy" when used by the American press is really a euphemism for an American friendly government and way of life.++++

I have to agree. In many instances I've found my fellow Americans basically stating that democracy, is only democracy if the right side wins. Otherwise, it is a failure of the administration's policy to promote democracy throughout the world.

The administration, of course, is also at fault because they provide such a simplistic formula to alleviate the world's ills, without even trying to resolve the underlying issues from which the primary problems spring. They, without realizing it, in this War on Terror are treating the symptons not the disease.
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