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Probably, but a blip in the road is now evident. The timeless comment by Toqueville comes to mind:

"Democratic republics [are] liable to perish from the misuse of their power, ...not by impotence."

There is further current reason to worry: pushing Anerican style of governance (and imperialism) forcefully into the Middle East appears to have:

  • handed HAMAS a huge victory in Gaza;
  • eroded our credibilty by actively opposing a democratically elected HAMAS government;
  • strengthened Hezbollah in Lebanon;
  • brought international terrorism to Iraqi soil;
  • brought Iraq essentially into civil war;
  • given the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt new vigor;
  • escalated international terrorism in general;
  • significantly eroded US solvency;
  • strained relationships with traditional US allies;
  • alienated the nations of Islam.

At this writing, al Qa'ida remains a potent terrorist movement. There are some 42 dictators still governing various lands, roughly half the world's total population. Some are strengthening their positions as the Middle East wars wear on the West. Democracy will likely come late for most of these folks, though totalitarian rule is not at all as popular as it once was -- say a century ago. Progress in governance is only measurable over generations not years.

The great hope for a new world order after the Cold War ended crashed on the self-interests of the Security Council members. Yet another opportunity was lost forever. But upon further reflection, from the material developed elsewhere on this site, humanity over-all has yet to come to grips with how to deal with extremism in its various expressions. That process will first have to understand the deepest roots and then how certain societies have dealt with it successfully. See Tokyo and Peaceful Cities for one example.

Pushing too hard led us to blindly support Israel in its expansionism and to invade Iraq on a pretense only to bring international terrorism to a country previously free of it. That terror visited American shores for the first time in 2001 was hardly all Mr. Bush's doing. His immediate response was on the mark in Afghanistan, but inept in that the ring leaders got away cleanly and remain at large to taunt us today. And it was also inept in that nation building was the last thing on the Neocon mind. Neocons behave like true plutocrats: "Keep the other guys weak and poor, so we can stay rich and powerful." This is the new imperialism, economic, and Manifest Destiny is once again the American way.

What the Neocon Manifesto and its adherents missed was the same oversight by Zionists some eight decades earlier. People pushed aside do not forget; some take up arms and have the sympathy of those who do not or cannot fight back. Zionists are withdrawing behind their Iron Wall. We reside behind a heavily guarded "Green Zone" in Iraq. "We" may be a misnomer; our soldiers and marines have no such benefit of a wall, nor even adequate personnel and vehicle protection. Casualties continue to mount -- grand-standing on an aircraft carrier to declare victory not withstanding. Was that arrogant, ignorance, "out of touch" or what? Well, maybe not entirely out of touch: Many people we encounter think it is great to have a macho president who will "kick butt."

We believe in democracy, and that it is indeed an idea whose time has come. But where it has never existed, it has to arise from the ground up, reach legitimacy in its citizen's eyes, have stable social, political and economic institutions free of religious control. All these took time in the Americas, Europe and the Pacific rim. Democracy will take even more time in the Middle East because none of the enablers are part of the heritage. Democracy and liberalism developed apace in Europe. That too took time because both the Nazis and Communists subverted the process and took power--through democratic processes of a sort.

The Chinese are liberalizing, not because they are being forced to, but because there is a ground-swell from the Chinese people, and it is in their interests to liberalize. Islam has its Chinese counterparts, Turkey and Indonesia. Turkey must be allowed into the European Union. Indonesia must be treated as an equal partner in the comity of nations. In neither country does Islam have a stranglehold on governance. Neither country has much oil. Each has progressive leadership. Each has the infrastructure and sufficient tradition to govern legitimately and democratically. Each has moved well past the rest of Islam in modernization. Each provides hope that there can be an eventual accommodation between East and West.

The way seems clear:
  • Stop antagonizing Islam and begin a rapprochement; leave Iraq sooner rather than later. The two obvious options a three-way civil war in Iraq, or a continued escalation of terror is in no one's interest. There has to be other options, but who is even looking? Common ground arises from common interests. They need to be identified and acknowledged.
  • Find indirect ways to assist progressive political reformations in the unsettled nations of the Middle East and Africa.
  • Seriously partner with the more progressive regimes, especially Turkey and Indonesia.
  • Do these things in the spirit of humanity as a whole, not as an extension on Manifest Destiny or American special interests.


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