Sunday, September 10, 2006

Is Democracy the Answer?

David Yerushalmi doubts the Bush democratization agenda presents a strategy for victory: (ht The American Thinker)
President Bush has built an entire war strategy on two legs, neither of which alone is sufficient to support victory. One leg stands for war, but only a limited war. A war to defeat “terrorism” and “Islamofascism” while preserving traditional and historical Islam with its full ideological panoply intact. It is a war that stops short of devastatingly destroying the enemy because the war planners are convinced that they can hurriedly rebuild a viable democracy on the back of a vibrant and fully respected Islam. But if traditional, historical Islam is anti-Western at its core, is this strategy viable? Does the evidence in Afghanistan or Iraq or the Palestine Territories suggest otherwise? Is there today such a thing as a western-friendly Islamic state?

Moreover, because the President embraces the democracy ideology, he is logically and strategically constrained from warring until the enemy is defeated because he refuses to identify the enemy. The Bush Administration’s war strategy to build democracy on a base of some mythical if not simply fictional peaceful Islam becomes the very factor that prevents victory. Unlike the war effort during World War II, when we warred against Germany and Germans and against Japan and the Japanese, President Bush wants to war against the tactic of terror or against only Islamic terrorists once they have already attacked or planned to attack.

In World War II, and properly so, there was no effort to artificially confine the war to Nazism and fascism or to Bushidoism and tokko (or suicide missions). Nor did the Allied Powers only seek to kill the Germans and the Japanese who took up arms. To end that war and to destroy the ideologies that drove those nations to conquer the West, the US and its allies made its goal victory and conquest through the complete and utter defeat and destruction of the enemy societies and their ideologies of world domination. Period.

The President’s second term is in its waning stages. The contenders lining up for that most important office look weak and pallid by comparison. If the President’s strategy is wrong and dangerous, the strategy that will come to replace his will most certainly be more so. By fighting the war with an ideology instead of a strategy for complete victory, the President is setting the stage for a colossal defeat and retreat.

At best, the US will find itself with warring Islamic democracies hell bent on our destruction. At worst, a nuclear Iran with its sphere of influence stretching through a Shia-dominated Iraq and a Lebanon held hostage to a Shia-centered Hezbollah, will combine with a Sunni-dominated al Qaeda to begin a domino effect. In the Middle- and Near-East, there are two major powers standing precariously on the shoulders of two military tyrants.

One is Egypt with Mubarak only two years away from his 80th birthday with no real successor in place. Mubarak of course has been ridiculously criticized by the West for failing to democratize. But every time he allows even the slightest “liberal democratic” reform, the Islamic factions of the Brotherhood, another of the many jihadist organizations in the region, gain enormous power and popular support. Mubarak knows full well that he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. He is grooming his son, Gamal, to stand in his shoes but most observers doubt if a newly anointed progeny will be able to hold back the Islamic forces rushing the gates. The question will be how well the Egyptian military responds to the Islamic threat when Mubarak dies.

The other of course is Pakistan with its nuclear arsenal protected only by strongman President-General Pervez Musharraf. But Musharraf knows that he rules over a population very supportive of bin Laden and al Qaeda. His most recent treaty with the tribal leaders in North Waziristan has been widely viewed as a wholesale capitulation to the fact that the Taliban and al Qaeda have been granted safe haven in the northwest mountainous regions of his country.

Once Egypt and Pakistan are in play, the whole of the Middle East, and indeed the Near East, including India, are at risk. Are we really prepared to rely on an ideological panacea? Put simply, is democracy the answer to Islam?