Blogs > HNN > WILL DEMOCRACY WORK IN IRAN THE WAY IT WORKS IN INDIA, PAKISTAN AND TURKEY

Feb 1, 2004 10:45 pm


WILL DEMOCRACY WORK IN IRAN THE WAY IT WORKS IN INDIA, PAKISTAN AND TURKEY



"People may elect the wrong men" pundits warn us and Bremer warns the administration. Hack, the French (with international quiescence) supported the cancellation of the Algerian elections which resulted in a decade long bloody civil war, a war, by the way, in which many more people were killed than in both Iraq's wars. Indeed, fear of Algeria redux was the reason"the West" stopped advocating the democratization of the Middle East. It is still the reason, the US goes along the Arafat's refusal to try to get reelected (I know - I know -"he is a shoe in" - so why is he so determined to prevent an election?).

The truth is that for Islamists as for everybody else, ideology counts less than their wish to stay in power. Thus, the Islamic party's victory did not transform Turkey into an intolerant ally of the Taliban nor did the Hinduist party's victory transform India into Iran. The need to demonstrate their ability to deliver a better life for their people modified their ideology. Note the recent willingness of the elected Pakistani Islamists to support Musharef initiative to begin talks with India about their holy grail- Kashmir! And, yes, Sharon negotiates with the Hizballa.

On the other hand, the Iranian electorate took note of the failure of the reformers to deliver. So, they may give the traditionalists a chance. But note the reason

"Haleh Esfandiari, an Iran scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Institute, a Washington think tank, says conservatives are gaining in part because of voter frustration with the failure of Iranian reformers."People are sick and tired of internal politics. Their view is, let's see what (conservatives) can deliver." See

As we say in America, only Nixon could go to China! We fail to say that the need to find a way to end the Vietnam war before 1972 helped focus his mind.

Electoral democracy works imperfectly and, like in Iran, much too slowly. Still, with the extra momentum it received from the overthrow of the Saddam regime, chance are it will start working in Iran and, indeed, in the Middle East. And that, as our disgraced"icon" used to say, is"a good thing."




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