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Perhaps the rule of law is the Greater Need

Reader comment on item: A Neo-Conservative's Caution

Submitted by Jon (France), Mar 9, 2005 at 04:10

As someone who was involved in the market economy reforms in post soviet central asia, I would like to drag another topic into the debate: Which is more important, democracy or the rule of law.

It seems to me that building a democracy as an end in itself, leaving the law to a secondary position, a "plug-in" to be organised later, is putting the cart in front of the horse. In the "Old Democracies" the evolution was always from recognised law to democracy, from a people protected from their "leaders" be they great, and even well intentionned, to a system where the expression of an unfettered people is expressed by their chosen leaders.

Law has the added advantage of fixing a system whereby the loosers (and there will always be loosers in an election) have recourse to a counter power to protect themselves and the interests of their constituents, rather than face the alternative of having "lost" and therefore to assimilate to the winner (the one party system of sharing the pot), or set up their own counter power (with the military temptation).

Law has also the advanatge of encouraging both domestic and international investment, which afterall is THE key to the future.
Of course the problem in the middle east is the shariah question (or temptation). Or efforts should go (also) to returning this part of the world (which produced the first codified law on the Hamourabi Tablet) to a modern system of law which perhaps imperfectly at first can define the rights of the population against that of an emerging state.

Thanks for your perceptive and well structured approach.

Jon
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