Friday, August 03, 2007

Headline of the day:
Rice Backs Appointed Palestinian Premier and Mideast Democracy

See a contradiction there? She doesn't:

Standing next to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, during a news conference here, Ms. Rice said, “We believe strongly in the right of people to express themselves and their desires, in elections.” But, she added, once elected, “you have the obligation to govern responsibly.”
She goes on to explain that she would be happy for the Palestinians to hold another vote --- so long as they keep on voting until they elect a government that the United States is willing to endorse.

The objection to the elected government was that it was headed by Hamas, who are really bad dudes with a nasty history of violence. True. But Abbas's Fatah isn't a band of angels either; Abbas himself is more willing than anyone in Hamas to tell Rice and the Israeli government what they want to hear, but talk is cheap; his local candidates were spewing out anti-Israel rhetoric (in a campaign dominated by talk of Fatah's corruption, which is probably why they lost) and his thugs were still involved in armed clashes with the Israelis as late as last month.

And the Rice theory of democracy has been applied in the past, in the Middle East, to governments whose offenses were not violent at all, like the elected Iranian government of Mossadegh, who thought the Iranians were getting a bad deal for their oil from foreign companies, and "irresponsibly" wanted a better one. Instead, we installed the Shah, a brutal dictator whose policies were to our liking. The Iranians themselves didn't like them quite so much. How's that working out for us?

None of this is to say that democracy is a cure-all. But we shouldn't be calling a vote unless we're prepared to deal with the winners --- that just makes us look foolish and dishonest, because it is.

More on this view of democracy here.


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