A conservative news and views blog.

Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Only the Strong Survive

Jihad Watch makes the case against the neo-Wilsonian vision which has been guiding the Administration in Iraq; the concept of democratization. As Jihad Watch points out, the only largely Islamic nation which has been successful with democracy has been Turkey, and their success is due, in large part, to the conscious restriction of the influence of Islam. The neo-Wilsonians think that it is possible to create an Islamic democracy, and I believe they are dead wrong.

The question must be asked; why do the neo-Wilsonians see democratization as the panacea for all ills? To hear these advocates tell it, democracy will invest people everywhere in peace, freedom, capitalism, and proper oral hygiene. Democracy is a sort of grab bag of societal virtues, guaranteed to melt the hardest hearts and de-boot the worst steely-toed thug. This erroneous concept stems from the liberal worldview that Man is inherently good, and that, by ordering the social and political structure properly, evil and oppression will wither away (didn`t Marx make the same claim?) If we can develop a working democracy in the Middle East, the thinking goes, we can awaken the human spirit and stoke the fires of freedom! We can create a revolution, which will spread throughout the Islamic World, mellowing an otherwise bellicose people and taking away support for terrorism. Democracy, the thinking goes, gives people a stake in society.

This is true to a certain point; a democratic system can allow the redress of grievances peaceably. It is equally true that a democratic system often stokes the fires of division. James Madison said of democracy in Federalist #10:

``..democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths."

Granted, Madison was referring to true democracy, as opposed to a democratic republic. (He believed that republicanism would restrain the passions of factionalism.) Still, many of the Founding Fathers had trepidations about the benefits of unenlightened democracy. They believed that only a moral people could maintain one.

Benjamin Franklin, when asked if America would have a monarchy or republic, was said to have replied:

``A Republic, Madam, if you can keep it.``

He clearly understood the dangers of unrestrained democratic government. This is the reason for the College of Electors.

I would like to challenge those proponents of democratization to defend their argument with historical examples. The fact is, with a few exceptions, the history of democratization is bleak.

Athens was the light of the ancient world, the vanguard of democracy and philosophical enlightenment, yet the rest of the Greek city-states sided with tyrannical Sparta against her. Why? Because Athens had become repressive and corrupt.

Consider the American Civil War; tensions mounted in the United States for decades over competing visions for the future of the Republic. Would America be an industrial, small-holding free Nation, or an agrarian, aristocratic, slave system? The Kansas-Nebraska Act opened the door to Bleeding Kansas, with the two systems trying to win the State by ballot and intimidation. This, as much as anything, ignited the bloodiest conflict in American history. Note that it was the election of 1860, the free election of Abraham Lincoln, which finally ignited this horrific war. Democracy certainly didn`t prevent passions from boiling over.

Consider Latin America; experiments with democracy throughout Central and South America had, at best, lukewarm results. Mexico had dictators, emperors, and socialists. Chile had communists and military dictators, ditto Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, etc. Latin America has suffered through countless revolution and counter-revolution.

Today, we have the democratically elected government of Hugo Chavez.

After throwing off the yoke of King Louis, France had the Jacobins, the Guillotine, and eventually, Napoleon. Much later, Italy would have Mussolini.

One of the prime examples of the failure of democracy is Weimar Germany. No one can argue credibly that, whatever their faults, the Hohenzollerens of Prussia provided poorer government than the democracy which followed the Kaiser`s abdication. Weimar was weak and corrupt, and, as a result, the door was left open for a silly looking corporal with monstrous ambitions. (The Nazi party was duly elected, after all!) That this could happen in one of the most educated, cultured nations on Earth should prove that democracy is not the panacea the neo-Wilsonians claim.

The only success the neo-Wilsonians can claim is the democratization of Germany, Italy, and Japan after WWII. These are special conditions; we occupied those nations for decades (to make sure they didn`t get out of line) and they faced a worse fate if they fell under the heel of the Soviet Union. Failure was simply not an option for them, and they knew it.

So, there must be something unique about the American experiment with democracy. Why is it that the English-speaking peoples have, by and large, found democracy to be such a civilizing force?

Alexis De Toqueville, that keen observer of all things American, gives us a clue;

"America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great."


``Christianity is the companion of liberty in all it`s conflicts-the cradle of it`s infancy, and the divine source of it`s claims.``

It`s the religion, stupid!

We have been greatly blessed by our Judeo-Christian heritage; such concepts as forgiveness, mercy, forbearance, and justice have been handed down by our ancestors, men and women who carved the Kingdom into a wilderness for the greater glory of the Almighty. We can agree to disagree because of the Biblical injunctions. We can see the other person as valid and precious because God said so. As a result, we can compromise, work out our differences without beheadings.

As the Bible says; ``righteousness exulteth a Nation``; righteousness is necessary to maintain a democratic system. As Jack Kemp put it;

``Democracy without morality is impossible``.

Not so the Islamic world; if Islam is a religion of peace, it offers peace through total surrender-or death. Church and State are indivisible, and conversion from Islam is a crime punishable by death. Just ask that fellow in Afghanistan! (The word Islam means, in fact, submission. It is sometimes translated as ``peace``, which means peace through submission.) The sword is the principle tool for social change, and the average Moslem understands first and foremost strength.

Consider these quotes from the Quaran:

Qur'an 8:12 I shall terrorize the infidels. So wound their bodies and incapacitate them because they oppose Allah and His Apostle.

Ishaq:327 Allah said, 'A prophet must slaughter before collecting captives. A slaughtered enemy is driven from the land. Muhammad, you craved the desires of this world, its goods and the ransom captives would bring. But Allah desires killing them to manifest the religion.

Qur'an 8:57 If you gain mastery over them in battle, inflict such a defeat as would terrorize them, so that they would learn a lesson and be warned.

Ishaq:406 Among us was Allah's Apostle whose command we obey. When he gives an order we do not examine it. The spirit descends on him from his Lord. We tell him about our wishes and our desires which is to obey him in all that he wants. Cast off fear of death and desire it. Be the one who barters his life. Take your swords and trust Allah. With a compact force holding lances and spears we plunged into a sea of men. and all were made to get their fill of evil. We are men who see no blame in him who kills.

THAT, my dear neo-Wilsonians, is the reason that ``winning hearts and minds`` is destined to fail! Such militarism means that those in the Islamic world maintain different values than those of us in America. This ``yearning of the human spirit`` is just one competing value with this respect for strength and warfare. It is a matter of strongly held faith. Victory must come first, then we can win all of the hearts and minds we want.

That`s not to say that we shouldn`t do all we can to show the populace-especially the disenfranchised-that we mean to improve their lives. We should be unfailingly kind to the average oppressed Muslim. We should try to build decent, stable, democratic governments. We should encourage the building of schools, hospitals, roads, etc. We should do this because it is the right thing to do. But our first goal must be victory, and it must be obvious to all that resistance is more than futile-it`s a total waste of time! We need to win the war first.

The ultimate problem in the Islamic world is not political or social-it`s far, far deeper. Sharia law warps these societies. Polygamy, for example, leaves numerous young man without the civilizing influence of women (the wealthy and powerful are allowed four wives and numerous concubines) and acts as a Jihadist factory, promising these poor kids 70 virgins and a mule in paradise if they blow themselves up. Fear of the religious police and Fatwas keep everyone in their place (how many revolutions occur against Islamic despots?), keeps women veiled, ignorant, barefoot, and pregnant, and keeps the rich rich and the poor poor. Total control of the media keeps the populace enraged at Israel and America, and everyone is happy-everyone in charge, that is.

Islam has dominated that corner of the world for 1400 years, and a thinly veneered application of democracy isn`t going to make the changes we hope for. Those changes must come, like all worthwhile things, through pain and suffering. The Bush doctrine needs to be employed diligently-any nation assisting terrorism in any way must be dealt with severely. These nations will not act out of love for us. They will only change when they realize the option is far worse.

The first war the newly independent United States waged was against the pirates of Tripoli. The much more powerful nations of Europe hid under their beds when the pirates raided, and they gladly paid ransom for ``protection``. America would have none of this; we invaded the source of the pirates, their sanctuary, and put a stop to the nonsense. Terrorism works in much the same way as large-scale piracy; hidden predators attack the unsuspecting innocents. Much like terrorists, pirates needed the help of state-sponsors; they needed provisions, repairs, safe harbors, etc. Terrorists need financing, money laundering, training facilities, fake documentation, intelligence, help with communication. It would be extraordinarily difficult for terrorist organizations to operate without some friendly territory giving them material aid. Rid the world of state sponsors of terrorism, and Al-Quaida`s international reach shrinks. How long can they function without the help of a Billion Muslims?

Declassified documents from Vietnam show that the Tet Offensive was the last hurrah; much like the Battle of the Bulge, the Viet Cong launched a final, desperate attack in the hopes of breaking the American Stranglehold. It worked; the American media portrayed it as a catastrophe, and We turned tail and ran. Had we instead launched a counter-offensive, we would have smashed them for good. Had we invaded North Vietnam we would have ended the war years before. Contrary to what many neo-Wilsonians claim, ``winning the hearts and minds`` was not the successful strategy there. It was a counterproductive strategy then, and it is likewise a failing strategy now. Strength counts for too much in the Islamic world, and what we see as winning hearts and minds they see as weakness.

This is a titanic struggle. Such struggles are won by those who have the greatest determination. Our enemy is absolutely determined. Are we?



Blogger John J. Pitney, Jr. said...

The Tocqueville quotation is fake. See:

8:49 AM  
Anonymous Mattias Caro said...

Timothy, someday when I'm in your neck of the woods or you make it to the federal city we must meet for a beer (or two) or a nice whisky.

I was about to make a point, but you kept answering them. My only comment would be that the neo-Wilsonianism embraced by our Administration is a strange blend of an empassioned fideism in democracy with a Christian worldview. I think their calls for a rule of law reflects the Christian thinking in the fallen state of man.

With that said, however, I think your comments are well in order and correct. Democracy is only a means, and a rather poor one at that. Chile is a better nation today because Pinochete took power. This doesn't excuse his abuses and murders, but the fact is undeniable: it's a better country.

Also, not all totalitarian societes are equal. The evil of Naziism and communism is that they imposed upon man's conscience a substitution of the state for God. For all of his abuses and atrocities, Religious freedom—the first freedom of man—enjoyed healthy autonomy under hussein. Indeed, ALL of Iraq's neighbor's scored much lower on this scale including Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia.

Plus I hate to say it: speaking realistically, knowing the fallen nature of man, the enemy of our enemy is our friend. With a mounting situation in Iran, perhaps a Hussein in Iraq would not have been so bad.

1:07 PM  
Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

Thanks, John; I`ve seen that quote numerous times, and it`s always been attributed to Tocqueville. I am amazed to learn otherwise, especially since it fits with so many other quotes from him. (Are they fake too? I certainly hope not!)

Thanks, Mattias!

I would be honored to have a beer with you; if you ever come to the Gateway City drop me an e, and I`ll do likewise if I ever make it to the Expanding Beltway.

I couldn`t agree more with your comments-especially with your view of the Administration. I don`t think they are totally wrong. I think, by and large, removing Saddam from power was a decent thing, and was the tactically smart move in terms of dividing our enemy. Iraq was the easier invasion; Iran would have been a very tough slog through mountainous terrain, while Syria would have been easy from a military standpoint but would be even worse in terms of terrorism and insurgency. Unfortunately, our emphasis on a stable democracy for Iraq has allowed us to lose the initiative, to allow our enemies to turn this into a dirty, messy affair. The President never understood the political ramifications of such a war, and that the enemy would use Vietnam style tactics to win politically what they couldn`t win militarily. We needed to keep the offensive rolling, make our enemies chase us. Concentrating on nation building was a grave mistake.

I fear Iraq has paralyzed the President, and he will not be able to deal with Iran. I fear we`ll fiddle while Parthia does a slow thermonuclear burn, and we`ll end up paying dearly for that.

3:52 PM  

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