Is Democracy POSSIBLE in the Middle-East??

  1. As I've stated numerous times, I'm ignorant of history other than what I've had the fortune to learn from great minds like Helen and Jnette..oh, and of course, my dear father.

    Dad and I were talking yesterday. He does not feel like the people of Iraq are capable of maintaining a democracy. He feels they are so "fight" oriented, that they will continually lash out at the gov't and/or maintain small military"cells" for their separate causes. He feels that a dictator is necessary for order. Feels this way about parts of Africa too (something about USA & Britian realizing this about Africa years ago).

    Anyhow, Dad IS a pretty intolerant soul, so I'm curious as to other's opinions. It DOES seem to me, with the history of fighting, that he may have a point. Helen? Jnette? I'd love to hear what other history buffs think.
  2. 27 Comments

  3. by   jnette

    HELEN has the great mind, here, but thank you anyway ! I was just fortunate enough to have had the opportunity of a lot of exposure.

    As to your thoughts, I was just addressing this issue in the other thread (Saddam 'n regime go bye-bye) in a response to Stuper. You might want to take a peek there. We can then pick it up here and carry it forth. Good topic, and I have given much thought to this as well. I DO understand where your Dad is coming from, and I would have to say my Dad would have thought much the same... although he was one of THE most TOLERANT and nonjudgemental human beings I heve ever had the honor of knowing.
    Last edit by jnette on Apr 12, '03
  4. by   caroladybelle
    I think that it would taking several generations and some social evolving to occur for anything resembling "our" democracy. I also worry about outside constraints (alienation from other arab countries, etc.) The culture is very different and that will be very problematic.

    My worries are based on previous issues with this (as discussed on other threads, ad nauseum) - I know that the US wants to get out quickly ... but they got out quickly in Afghanistan after the Russians left, and that did not work out well and permitted evil a foothold) . Also since the fall of communism - Russia really has not fared very well.

    Also, do we want true equality of gender (something that will conflict with sha'ria law), race, religion. We will fighting 1400 years (actually probable more) of attittudes.
  5. by   jnette
    Originally posted by caroladybelle
    I think that it would taking several generations and some social evolving to occur for anything resembling "our" democracy. I also worry about outside constraints (alienation from other arab countries, etc.) The culture is very different and that will be very problematic.

    Also, do we want true equality of gender (something that will conflict with sha'ria law), race, religion. We will fighting 1400 years (actually probable more) of attittudes.
    Truly, it will take time, and much of it. These same concerns I just addressed in the other thread (Saddam 'n regime) with Stuper.
  6. by   jnette
    poop... can't continue on with these discussions now.. have a previous commitment and won't be back 'til later tonite..

    I'll catch up when I get back ! Later guys !
  7. by   fergus51
    I don't know if they'll ever have a democracy like ours, but I certainly think they are capable of maintaining a stable and relatively free state. Turkey is an example of a muslim (I know, not arab) state that has maintained a secular democracy for decades, I don't see why other countries in the region can't.
  8. by   oramar
    I just heard discussion on tv about this. It said that at end of WWII Japan was a Imperial Feudalist state that had no concept of democracy. It has been a democracy for 60 years now with no problems. If I could have spoke up I would have mentioned that Japan is a much more homogenous society than Iraq. The problems may well lie with the old ethnic hatreds. Only way to deal with that is to make sure everyone has a voice.
  9. by   rncountry
    :imbar great mind? No, just one that is always curious and inquisitive.
    Let me start this out with three quotes from Winstron Churchill.

    Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.
    Sir Winston Churchill

    Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.
    Sir Winston Churchill

    Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
    Sir Winston Churchill, Hansard, November 11, 1947

    So while we have no way of knowing whether democracy will take or not, it is well worth the endeavor. There is no example in the history of the middle that is one of anything even close to democracy. I believe it would be a mistake to think that what will take hold will resemble the US democracy in it's present form. We have after all had a couple hundred years to experiment with it. I would think more in terms of our early democracy. I have always believed that one of the things that made this country so successful was the system of states, instead of one lump govn't. Different groups and their cultures settled by and large into specific areas of the country, keeping much of their own culture and religious tendencies. This gave a bumber zone to many who otherwise in other times and places would have been inplacable enemies. Then with a system that matured and grew into one that encouraged tolerance, think William Penn here and some of the early constitutions of states that wrote in religious tolerance early on such as Virginia, these disparate people were able to find things that made common culture and social norms. It was those commonalities that allowed this country to find a specific "American culture". Continuing this line of thinking I would believe the best way to bring Iraq to democracy would be to follow much of the same. The various areas of Iraq could be "states" with the ability of each state having their own constitution, their own culture and social norms etc.. with a federal govn't as an overseer and such. I hope what I am saying here is making sense.
    America is a very divergent country, we have common social norms and common culture but we also have regional differences that most any of us can cite. I don't think any of us would feel that the norms of say California are the same norms you would find in West Virginia. Not religiously, not politically and not even food wise. Yet West Virginians can go to California and co-exist peacefully because of the overlying social and cultural norms that prevade this country. Namely tolerance and freedom. Californians may say things about those in West Virginia and vice versa, but let anyone from the outside attack either state and the other will rush to the defense because our common interests have been attacked. It is my hope that someday we will see the same in the Middle East.
    I do not believe it will be easy, nor without peril. But I do beleive that there is the possiblity of it. I would wager that a hundred years ago there were few in the world that believed that Germany would ever become a peaceful country that would be able to take divergent Germanic tribes with a long history of warrior society would be able to mold those forces together, and become what Germany is today. The loss of life and morals in WWII set the stage, but without the Marshell plan and the setting up of Germany under a democratic govn't it may still not have happened. It is my belief that in order for various people's of the world to see the benefits of democracy, they have to first taste what freedom is and the benefits it can bring to society, and not only society but to each individual who loves their children, their wife, their husband. Once people see a personal benefit of healthy, well fed children and husbands who are not sent off to die and wives that are not used and abused, then the ability to live with divergent cultural and religious norms become something very desirable. What the people's of the Middle East have not seen going back centuries is something that can supply this. Once they do they may embrace it with a fervor. As the saying goes, all politics are local.
    We seek not to replace the religion or even the cultures that make up Iraq. What we seek to replace is the old way of politics and autocratic govn't. This country is a testament that this can be done, our own history shows that at times it is painful as we find our way and seek to implement our own ideals. It is bound to be the same in Iraq. But possible? Most definately.
  10. by   Q.
    I don't see why any culture or religion would be incapable of freedom, which is basically what democracy is. Democracy is a way of implementing freedoms.

    I believe freedom is a universal concept and desire across all cultures and is a basic human craving. I believe the lack of freedom is what spurs radical cells and uprisings and unrest.

    I believe the Middle East is capable having that way of life, without any interference related to the Islamic religion. There are Muslims living in the United States who are free, yet, still feel that they are good Muslims. Qatar, the small middle-eastern island in which CENTCOM is based, is a Muslim nation but has a democracy of sorts. It is possible.
  11. by   Aussienurse2
    But who are we to tell them that a democracy is good? Look at democratic governments, how many are actually free and democratic? Government is controlled to a point by global business interests. What is to prevent an elected government in Iraq taking the same road as Sadam Hussain I just don't see why our respective forms of government should be imposed on a completely different culture.
    In every country around the world governments come and go, regimes replace each other bringing promises of greatness and rewards for support. They invariably fail, because, ultimately, human beings are greedy and there is no innoculation for greed. This is what happened in Russia, Sierra Leone and countless other small countries who "went west". When one culture is enforced upon another unrest and dissatisfation is inevitable.
    What ever happens I hope that it takes a long time, that rebuilding the houses and facilities helps to rebuild families and pride in their nation, in their culture and in their hearts.I hope that they maintain their individuality and their cultual and religous heritage because this is what builds a nation. A world that is nation after nation of mindless repition of western values would be boring. IMHO.
  12. by   rncountry
    You don't believe that a people cannot have freedom and their own cultural and religious values too? Democracy is freedom, not a specific govn't setup. England is a democracy and so is the US, yet the particular form is different. Why would it not be possible for people of the Middle East to have a democracy that is formed with it's own culture in mind? Or do you believe that the people of Iraq are simply not capable of handling freedom and instead must have an autocratic regime to keep everyone in line?
  13. by   Aussienurse2
    O.K. Please do not put words into my mouth(keyboard?), I have higher brain function and therefore am perfectly able to do so my self. I would never be so bold(stupid) as to say that a group of intelligent people could not decide what is right for them whether that be lunch or government.
    All I was saying is that democracy is not and never will be the be all and end all of governmental forms. It does not work as well as we would like because we are greedy beings. We always want more of what we have. Humans need to want.
  14. by   molecule
    I've been reading up on Algeria and the stituation there is too complex to write here about. It does tell a caution tale about democratic prospects.
    this interesting article from the Mid East Institute [ a US group founded in 1946]
    offers a bit of history and perspective.
    what stands out to me in the' is democracy possible' question is that voting does not equate with democracy unless elections are open and the franchise is universal. Western style democracy is founded on [dare I say it] a long history of liberal philosophy and secularism. Will these concepts be accepted?