As you know, our Leader, Dubya, is very proud of the sort
of democracy that we have achieved in Iraq. Indeed, when
Russian President Putin commented that "We certainly would
not want to have the same kind of democracy they have in
Iraq", Dubya immediately riposted, "Just wait
So, it is worth knowing what one of the architects of this grand
success, such as it is, thinks of problems of democratization
elsewhere in the Arab world. Here's an NPR
interview with Noah Feldman, who is, among other things, a former
advisor to the Iraqis on constitutional law, commenting on problems
posed by the participation of Hezbollah as a minority party in the
democratically elected Lebanese government. I can't find a full
transcript, just audio, but Feldman's own summation will serve as a
reasonable precis of the whole:
Interviewer: But what happens when those [armed]
groups are the ones with the political power in a country?
Feldman: Then I think the answer for us as outsiders to say
is, "Look, we can't tell you who to vote for, but we can tell you how
we're going to treat your nation from a perspective of policy, and if
you elect a government that's hostile to us or our allies, we're just
not going to deal with that government. We're going to treat you as a
Because, of course, we've matured past the naive stage where we
attempted to deal diplomatically with hostile states. Look at what we
got out of the Cuban Missile crisis, to take only one example of that
failed strategy --- decades of further uncertain nuclear standoff.
Now, one might say that this was a better outcome than the full-scale
nuclear exchange that we nearly got instead, but that is a weak
perspective, showing a lack of will. That the nuclear exchange would
have killed hundreds of millions of people is, in fact, an expression
of the chief virtue of the manly approach which does not shrink from
conflict --- it leads to outcomes with finality.
So, we no longer "deal with" states with hostile governments.
Better by far to invade them, or just bomb the crap out of them. In
this instance, for example, that will give the vast majority of
Lebanese, who didn't vote for Hezbollah, and who are getting
the crap bombed out of them anyway, an incentive to not vote for them
again --- the hope that maybe, someday, if they thank our allies
enough for bombing them, and us for supplying the bombs, and they keep
on pulling levers, then maybe someday we'll stop. Even in a culture
dominated by notions of honor that lead to vicious blood feuds, that
will surely prove more appealing than, say, picking up a gun and
So, there's a clear, simple message here, as Feldman explains:
- The message there is that democracy is just fine, but
there's no excuse making for the public when they've elected,
democratically, a government that goes out and breaks international
law, or that violates the borders of its neighbors, or that acts
against American interests.
So, no matter how the civilians of Beirut actually voted, the bombs
are their fault. Besides which, why would a legitimately elected
government ever act against American interests anyway?
So, this is the kind of clear-eyed thinking that has brought us our
success in Iraq, which will soon be spreading throughout the Middle
East. And this was on liberal NPR, so you know this isn't just some
More wisdom from the same source perhaps this time
next year, or whenever it is that I next have the stomach for
commentary from "liberal" NPR.