Friday, March 14, 2003

Democracy is messy

Continuing the thoughts of this previous post... The problem, I think, is that those who want to promote Democracy are often to afraid of its consequences to go the extra mile to see it done. As I said before, what do we do if we institute a democratic system in Iraq and the first people who get elected are Osama wannabes? We could step in and stop them from taking office, but that would put a lie to our stated desire to foment democracy. I think a better option would be to let the fanatics come to power and then deal with them as we would any other potentially corrupt and/or dangerous leader. You let them do what they want to do and, if what they do is something you don't like (like supporting terrorists who plan to fly airplanes into your buildings), then you take them out (like we did with the Taliban).(*) This way, you are not violating the principles of democracy. You are simply asserting the principle that says that it's okay to swing your arms just so long as you don't hit my face. Besides, as our current history suggests, when the fanatics take power, they often turn out to be incompetent and corrupt leaders. In a robust democracy, they would lose the favor of the people who put them into office and be elected out. Those who worry that this won't happen have fundamentally lost faith in the principle of Democracy. History shows that it can work, as long as people are willing to put up with the chaotic nature of the process. It's the authoritarians who like things done neat and orderly. How messy is your desk?
(*: if you determine that they are doing this before the fact, you go through international bodies like the UN. If you determine that they were behind something that has already happened (like 9/11), then you can do it yourself. That is what the UN charter is all about.)


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