THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, USA

An Online Journal of Political Commentary & Analysis
Volume XIII, Issue # 48, February 16, 2011
Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor
Government Committed to & Acting in Accord with Conservative Principles
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IS AN EGYPTIAN "DEMOCRACY" A GOOD THING?
By Raymond Ibrahim

"DEMOCRACY" DOES NOT NECESSARILY INCLUDE THE INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM OR CIVIL LIBERTIES GUARANTEES ASSOCIATED WITH WESTERN-STYLE CONSTITUTIONAL REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY.  "DEMOCRACY" CAN & OFTEN DOES MEAN UNLIMITED RULE BY THE MAJORITY, WITH ABSOLUTELY NO PROTECTION OF MINORITY RIGHTS.   "DEMOCRACY" CAN MEAN "MAJORITARIAN DICTATORSHIP," OR "TYRANNY OF THE MAJORITY," RATHER THAN A FREE, PLURALISTIC, & SECULAR SOCIETY
FULL STORY:   It is axiomatic in the West that democracy equates liberty and freedom. Say the word "democracy" and images of a free, pluralistic, and secular society come to mind. Recently commenting on the turmoil in Egypt, U.S. President Barack Obama made this association when he said that "the United States will continue to stand up for democracy and the universal rights that all human beings deserve" as if the two are inseparable.

But are they? Does "democracy" necessarily always lead to "universal rights" and all of the other boons associated with the word?

The fact is, there is nothing inherently liberal [constitutional], humanitarian, or secular about democracies. Consider ancient Athens, regularly touted as history's first democracy. It held principles, such as slavery, that would today be deemed antithetical to the notion of democracy. Whereas the near institutionalized misogyny of "democratic" Athens would make the Taliban proud, women in "authoritarian" Sparta enjoyed a comparatively high level of equality. For these reasons, the Athenian Plato, one of history's greatest minds, eschewed democracy, opting for a socalled "philosopher king" to provide for the good of the people.

In short, as with all forms of government, democracy is a means to an end: based on whether that end is good (freedom) or bad (fascism) should be the ultimate measure of its worth.

Recent examples of "people-power" literally, demos-kratia helping to empower individuals or organizations culminating in fascistic governments are many: the Palestinians elected the terrorist organization Hamas; free elections in Algeria in 1991 would have brought Islamists to power. Most famously, the Shah of Iran, whose monarchy was socially liberal, was overthrown by the people, who brought the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and fascism to power.

Enter Egypt. For starters, what we are witnessing is a popular revolt. But, now that the people have gotten what they want the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak will "people-power" also lead to a more liberal, secular, and pluralistic society? Theoretically, it is possible: many Egyptians, Christians and Muslims, would welcome a freer society. Despite al-Jazeera's propaganda which some in the West follow hook-line-and-sinker the majority of Egyptians protesting are not doing so to see Sharia law implemented, but rather for more mundane reasons: food and jobs.

That said, the Muslim Brotherhood does pose a very real threat; moreover, it does want strict Sharia implemented. If the people help see it to power, Egypt will become considerably more fascistic. Yet, this does not mean that most Egyptians are Islamists. While some are, others go along with the Brotherhood for the ostensible benefits, while being indifferent to their ideological agenda. After all, Hamas' famous strategy of endearing the Palestinians to it by providing for their needs was learned directly from its parent organization: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

In a way, this is not unlike Western democracies: people can vote based on their immediate needs, emotions, misinformation, or even sheer propaganda and get more than they bargained for. Yet, Western democracies have built-in safeguards, for example, limited terms, a constitution, rule of law, and a separate judiciary. But, what if all of these are built on Islamist, that is, fascistic, principles, agreed to by the people? A government can have a constitution, law, and judiciary and still all be based on Sharia which literally means "the way." After all, part of the Muslim Brotherhood's, by now, infamous slogan is that "the Koran is our Constitution"; likewise, Iran has a "constitutional government" yet based on Sharia principles.

In short, America needs to stop praising democracy a means and start supporting freedom and universal rights the desired end. If that end can best be achieved by a "philosopher-king," as opposed to popular support, so be it; if that end can be achieved by supporting secularists, while openly suppressing Islamists, so be it. Rather than offer lip service to any specific mode of governance, the U.S.A. should support whoever and whatever form of government is best positioned to provide for the overall good of a people. This will also help fend off the ubiquitous charge, emanating from America's ivory towers of academia to the Arab streets, that America is hypocritical for befriending and supporting dictators, while constantly singing praises of democracy.


LINKS TO RELATED TOPICS:
Egypt, Arabs, & the Middle East

American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East

North Africa -- The Arab States of Islamic North Africa

The Middle East & the Arabs

Islamism & Jihadism -- The Threat of Radical Islam
Page Three    Page Two    Page One

International Politics & World Disorder:
War, Peace, & Geopolitics in the Real World:
Foreign Affairs & U.S. National Security

   Page Two    Page One

Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.

Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization

Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies

U.S. National Security Strategy

CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY & OTHER POLITICAL REGIMES
Modern Constitutional Democracy:
Fundamental Character & Essential Ingredients

Constitutionalism: The First Essential Ingredient
of Modern Constitutional Democracy

Dictatorship: The Opposite of Constitutionalism

Representative Democracy: The Second Essential Ingredient
of Modern Constitutional Democracy

Direct Democracy & Representative Democracy

Political Culture & Modern Constitutional Democracy

Modern Constitutional Democracy:
Summary & Conclusion



Raymond Ibrahim, a historian of Islam, Islamism and the Middle East, is the Associate Director of the Middle East Forum, a guest lecturer at the National Defense Intelligence College, and the editor of The Al-Qa'ida Reader, a collection of tranlations of key texts and documents of the Islamist movement. Ibrahim's translations of the religious texts and political propaganda comprising this collection help readers comprehend the origins, development, history, and serious danger of the Islamist war doctrines of Usama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Founders of Al-Qa'ida and implacable enemies of the U.S.A. and the West.


The foregoing article by Raymond Ibrahim was originally published in Hudson New York, February 16, 2011, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis--vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (URL: http://www.meforum.org/2833/egyptian- democracy)


Republished with Permission of the Middle East Forum
Reprinted from the Middle East Forum News
mefnews@meforum.org (MEF NEWS)
February 16, 2011




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