Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Excellent Comment

Still, the question arises, however, that if the U.S. sides alone with Israel, would that not be a terrible message to send to the broader Middle East democracy initiative. This is the question that is the most lopsided of them all.

We have long believed that, paraphrasing former CIA director Jim Woolsey, democracy is not one vote, one time. Israel is in the Middle East and is a democracy that passes the Woolsey test and has done so for almost 60 years. Lebanon has had one election in recent times and it weaved Hezbollah into that democracy. The PA had an election and it put Hamas in charge. It seems to us that if one wants to further the Middle East democracy project — and not be cynical about it — the U.S. is doing precisely what it should: showing support for the established democracy, not the fragile and inept one that allows, tolerates or — at a minimum — turned a blind eye to Hezbollah in its midst.

At the end of the day, if Middle Eastern democracies are desired, and they are, does one not want models to point to? What model should the U.S. be pointing to to the Iranian dissidents, the Egyptian dissidents, the Saudi dissidents? Would we be right to say, “Vote and behave like they did in Lebanon, and erect a government like that (where 400,000 people live under Hezbollah control),” or “Look at Israel: It comes to the aid of others around the world, it has a minority population with full democratic rights that even serve in government, and its economy, free of oil, works.”

It may be wishful thinking to assume Arab peoples will fully want Israel as their model, indeed it is probably naive. Nonetheless, if the U.S. is to be held accountable for initiating and supporting democracies, the one that is one year old and hosts Hezbollah is not the model we should be propagating.

So the next time the question is asked about the Middle East democracy project in light of Israel, Lebanon, and the Middle East — the reminder needs to be made: Israel is a democracy and it is in the Middle East. And one final point: If Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran were to be victorious in their military actions and ideology, two things would not exist: 1) Israel and 2) Lebanese democracy of any kind.

Full article here.

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