Monday, August 15, 2005

Another scholar looks at our ME policy

F. Gregory Gause 3rd is an associate professor of political science at the University of Vermont, where he directs the Middle East Studies Program. This article is based on an essay that will appear in the September/October 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs magazine.
This makes sense to me.

Although little is known about the causes of terrorism, available data does not show a strong relationship between terrorism and democracy. The political scientists William Eubank and Leonard Weinberg have shown that most terroristincidents in the 1980s occurred in democracies and that generally both the victims and the perpetrators are citizens of democracies.

In his recent book "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism," Robert Pape argues that the targets of suicide bombers are almost always democracies, but that the motivation of the groups behind those bombings is to fight against military occupation and for self-determination. Terrorists are not driven by a desire for democracy but by their opposition to what they see as foreign domination.
Those who assert that democracy will reduce terrorism presumably believe that potential terrorists and terrorist sympathizers, given the opportunity to participate openly in competitive politics and have their voices heard in the public square, will not resort to violence to achieve their goals.

But it is just as logical to assume that terrorists, who rarely represent political agendas that could mobilize electoral majorities, would reject the very principles of majority rule and minority rights on which liberal democracy is based. If they could not achieve their goals through democratic politics, why would they privilege the democratic process over those goals? It seems more likely that terrorists and potential terrorists would attack democracy if it did not produce their desired results.
[...] is highly unlikely that democratically elected Arab governments would be as cooperative with the United States as the current authoritarian regimes. To theextent that public opinion can be measured in these countries, research shows that Arabs strongly support democracy. But many Arabs hold negative views of the United States. [Really? Izzat so???] If Arab governments were democratically elected and more representative of public opinion, they would thus be more anti-American.

Seems to me that is already happening in Iraq. How many other people are pointing at a king in his underwear?

Again, thanks to the Aardvark.

No comments: