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Islamist government is not necessarily a threat per se

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

Submitted by Seb Dakin (Japan), Mar 9, 2005 at 01:46

It is indeed likely that the outcome of a free election in the countries mentioned above would result in an Islamist government. This bodes ill for Israel, but then the dictators who went before were equally awful from that perspective.

What it does not necessarily mean is that the new government will be as implacably hostile to the US as revolutionary Iran was. The regime there replaced a US-backed dictatorship not so many years after the US was instrumental in replacing a nascent democracy with its own client, and in the years following the revolution the US backed Iraq in a wholly unjustified war of aggression.

Where Islamist politicians have been democratically elected in the place of regimes whose downfall the US has been party to, and if the US doesn't then sponsor their enemies, it could well be that such men as are elected seek to improve conditions in their own countries rather than export revolution. I wonder how many human beings, regardless of religion, truly relish the thought of their children blowing themselves up along with other people's children. If the political process enables legitimate grievances to be aired, then you might see a fall in extremism at a grass roots level. A problem there's been in the Arab world hitherto has been that unless you are in charge, your voice doesn't get heard unless you make a very loud noise. Boom.

In any case, the countries concerned are overwhelmingly Islamic. At some point, if they and the rest of the world are ever going to move on, some form of government other than corrupt and oppressive oiligarchies will have to be tried. A multiparty democracy is the best available model, and if it's not to be tried now then when? The consequences of waiting could become worse as European demographics alter the equation over the next twenty years or so.

The danger of worrying about the perceived problems of democracies electing Islamists is that instead of giving it time to play itself out, the tendency is to step in too soon in response to the kind of blood-curdling kill-the-infidel crowd-pleasing that is inevitable going to be a feature of elections with an inexperienced electorate.

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