Saturday, May 7, 2011

Democrats & Democracy

It’s funny how Democrats, here I’m talking about politicians and political activists not everyday folk who vote Democrat because they think Democrats help the poor, support of Democracy is so conditional. They have no problem with the political machine in Chicago that rigs elections and brings the dead out to vote but they got mighty upset about hanging chads in Florida.

Back in the day the Democrats were very hard on the democratically elected government of South Vietnam for not being as pure as the driven snow while seemingly finding no problem with the Communist dictatorship in North Vietnam.

Democrats get all worked up about dictators like Franco in Spain or Marcos in the Philippines but have nothing but kind words, or on a bad day excuses, for Mao in China or Stalin in the USSR. This is interesting given that Marcos fled the Philippines rather than use the military to slaughter his opponents and Franco set up a peaceful transition--don’t tell me he didn’t know that Juan Carlos would reinstate a democracy--while Mao killed more than 50,000,000 people and Stalin killed more than 20,000,000.

Democrats will often say that we should put the liberty and self determination of others ahead of the interests of America. While that sounds good it is clearly not true in all cases. Would the Democrats have allowed Nazi’s to take over Germany right after WWII if the Nazi’s had won elections? Well I hope not. Similarly was it wrong to force Democracy on the Japanese in order to try and restrain Japanese militarism?

If the only consequence of supporting a revolution in some country was that America would have to pay more for some commodity then I think we can all agree that America should be willing to pay that price in order to let people be free.

But what if the cost is a world war? Is it then worth it to support the revolution? It’s clearly going to require hard thought on a case by case basis to decide if from a purely selfish perspective America should support this or that revolution.

The good news is that in some cases we can forgo the hard thinking. The reason is that not all revolutions are good and not all Democracies are better. The liberals recognize this which is why when the Iranian people recently started to rise up against their theocratic dictators the Democrats looked the other way and were, generally, silent. Of course in that case their reasoning is highly suspect. But while there are certainly cases of good revolutions, the Philippines and Spain are examples where everyone won, there are situations where revolutions are clearly bad, starting with the famous French one.

Today Democrats are all excited about the possible revolution in Egypt. They don’t seem to mind that the revolutionaries are led by a bunch of anti-American religious fanatics who think terrorism is a good thing and are itching for a war against Israel.

But to those who know history this is no surprise. Way back when when Obama I, Jimmy Carter, was president Democrats did the same little dance about the Shah of Iran. They strongly supported the folks who rose up against the Shah claiming to bring Democracy to Iran. While more rational voices pointed out that the Shah was our ally and he wasn’t really all that bad of a dictator, he didn’t kill millions like Mao for example, and asked would the revolution really help anyone the Democrats were showing how enthused they were about Democracy! Too bad they lost that feeling when the Iranian people tried to get rid of the theocrats that Carter was so fond of.

Sadly the Iranians exchanged a moderate dictator for a fanatical religious dictatorship far worse than even the liberals misrepresentation of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. While the Shah wasn’t a saint he was far less repressive, and violent, than the current gang of thugs running Iran. He never denied that the Holocaust occurred nor did he help kill Americans by providing military training and aid to terrorists fighting Americans like the current “Democratic” regime in Iran does.

While dictators are never a good thing Democrats should listen to the sage advice of their hero Uncle Joe Stalin who said “The better is the enemy of the good enough.” Not all revolutionaries proclaiming their love of Democracy mean it and not all revolutionary movements are the right thing at the right time.

If overthrowing Mubarak in Egypt would bring about a true democracy that was tolerant of religious minorities then one could argue that even if the new government wasn’t friendly with the US it would be a price we have a moral obligation to pay. But why should we suspect that one group of Islamic fundamentalists, the Muslim Brotherhood, will be different than another, the Khomeini crew in Iran? Islam hasn’t changed since the 1980’s, at least not in the Middle East, so it would seem prudent to question the true motives of Islamic fundamentalists.

But even if the new Egyptian government wouldn’t oppress its own people there’s the problem of world war to ponder. Mubarak has taken a pragmatic approach to Israel. He’s not going to be starting any major wars. But Iran is consistently backing fanatics set on exterminating the Jewish people. If Egypt swings to the Iranian side, and Islamic fanatics do tend to make common cause when it comes to Israel, we could easily see a major war, a war in which at least one side has nuclear weapons.

Is the chance of a nuclear war between Israel and Iran so trivial that we should ignore it when deciding who to support in Egypt? The answer isn’t obvious and it requires a lot of thought, thought that Democrats aren’t applying at the present time. Just like back in 1979 Democrats are standing up for revolution without really looking at the consequences.

It appears that so long as the country is an ally of the US Democrats will support regime change with no problem. But if the country is our enemy, the USSR in the old days and Iran now, Democrats are much more hesitant to approve a change of guard. A cynical person might conclude the the Democrats support for Democracy is more of an extension of their political battles with Conservatives than a true love of liberty.

Clearly America has a moral obligation to try and help countries like Egypt transition to true Democracies. But Democrats knee jerk reaction to support mobs in the street probably stems more from nostalgia for the “Days of Rage” in the 1960’s than a well thought out assessment of the consequences of giving Mubarak the boot.

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