Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Oddly enough, a link from Instapundit led me to Cogent Provocateur and a very interesting entry from April.

Here's a quotation of the relevant section:

In quite another venue, C-SPAN aired Graham Fuller's talk at this week's USNA Foreign Affairs Conference. Fuller is a CIA/RAND greybeard, expert on Middle East, Central Asia, and the Muslim world. You don't want to hear what Fuller has to say.

He'll tell you the world you live in is more complicated than the one you prefer ... "obvious" direct solutions blow up in your face ... not everyone who digs you is your friend, not everyone who dumps on you is your enemy ... you can't do just one thing. The kind of things you always knew were true ... just things you never want to hear. Resist, and he'll bury you in supporting detail.

One especially provocative thesis: By default, Islamic fundamentalists are the vanguard of democracy in their respective settings. Kingdoms, military regimes, one-party democracies can stamp out political movements ... but they can't go in and crush the mosques. All the natural "juice" that flows into asking "why aren't things different from the way things are?" ends up pooling and souring in fundamentalist cellars.

Why hasn't real democracy evolved? For one thing, we never backed it when it stood to pick the wrong guy (cf. Venezuela) -- we had plenty of chances -- and given the lay of the land, it'll almost always pick the wrong guy first.

Meanwhile we sit over here in blogworld, sophomorically asking "why aren't things different from the way things are?".

This is why I'm skeptical of the "imposed democracy" element of what's becoming the New Bush Doctrine... not only do imposed governments have a nasty way of blowing up in your face (Iraq and Afghanistan are oft-quoted but still cogent examples), but the concept that fundamentalism might be necessary for the growth of democracy... ack. That raises all sorts of nasty questions, even if the simple question "if the people are allowed to vote for whomever they like, and they vote for Shari'a, what is the United States going to do?" seems to be ignored, or at least glossed over.

Perhaps the United States is correct in overturning the international system and grabbing the levers of power themselves. Perhaps there is no other choice, and a "Pax Americana" will be a good and wise thing whose time had come. Considering how badly everybody else who tried it over the last few centuries screwed up, though, I'm really not as confident that this will go as smoothly as some think it will.

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