Daniel Pipes writes about George Bush’s new commitment to democracy in the Middle East:

‘Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe.’ This sentence, spoken last week by President Bush, is about the most jaw-dropping repudiation of an established bipartisan policy ever made by an American president….

Understanding the rationale behind the old dictator-coddling policy makes clear the radicalism of this new approach. The old way noticed that the populations are usually more anti-American than are the emirs, kings, and presidents. Washington was rightly apprehensive that democracy would bring in more radicalized governments; this is what happened in Iran in 1979, and it nearly happened in Algeria in 1992. It also worried that once the radicals reached power, they would close down the democratic process (what was dubbed ³one man, one vote, one time²).

Mr. Bush¹s confidence in democracy–that despite the ³street¹s² history of extremism and conspiracy-mindedness, it can mature and become a force of moderation and stability–is about to be tested. This process did, in fact, occur in Iran; will it recur elsewhere? The answer will take decades to find out. [NY Sun]

To the contrary, it won’t take decades to find out.

Individual rights, not democracy, is the fundamental in politics; representative government is merely a means to the protection of individual rights and the consequent limitation of the power of government. An attempt to establish majority rule unconstrained by the principle of individual rights is destined to collapse in a power struggle over the reins of power sooner or later–and in the Middle East, there’s no reason to believe it won’t be sooner.

Recommended Reading: Freedom–Not Democracy–for the Arabs in the Middle East and De-mystifying Democracy.

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