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Compare with Communists

Reader comment on item: Can Hezbollah and Hamas Be Democratic?

Submitted by Tara Maya (United States), May 31, 2005 at 01:03

I think the comparison with Communists is particularly appropriate. Pro and Con.

On the one hand... Communists used thinly veiled "democratic fronts" to gain power in many countries. Clearly, they successfully used the rocky transition from dictatorship to democracy to use elections as a stepping stone to totalitarian power.

On the other hand... In other countries, including the Communists into parlimentary elections did indeed "tame" them, and serve to consolidate, not liquidate, democracy. An example is Spain. The decision to include the Communists, who had been major players in the Civil War, in the new democracy was so controversial it was one of the issues that led to the attempted coup in 1981. Yet, the inclusion of the party eventually enabled Spain to heal somewhat from the wounds of that war and build a more inclusive democracy.

If Saddam Hussain had taken up Bush's last ultimatum, and fled the country, we might not have American forces in Iraq today. I believe that Iraq's road to democracy would have been much rockier, and we might have had to have resigned ourselves to allowing the Ba'ath Party to compete in democratic elections. Thank God that's not the case, but it could easily have happened; it could still happen in Syria.

There are many ways to lose democracy, but there are also many roads to democratize. Some involve more compromise and risk than others. I find it ironic that so many people stick to the cannard: "Democracy cannot be imposed by force by a foreign occupier." Actually, that is a method with one of the best track records. However, despite wild left-wing accusastions, it is hardly fesible to send American soldiers to police the entire ME. If it were, the US could just disarm Hezbollah, outlaw it, and let the Shiites form a different party to represent them. Short of that, the reality of power politics argues for trying to include them. So, while I believe that Bush's policy will lead to democracies across the ME, it won't happen all at once, nor will all of those democracies be of the same quality.

And on the third hand -- the ETA is still setting bombs in Spain today, despite the fact that there is no broad based support. Sometimes a terrorist is just a terrorist. For me, the jury is still out on which path Hezbollah will chose.
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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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