Here we are now with ISIS running amok in the Middle East and multiple dictators eliminated – Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and maybe soon even Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Mr. Rogers they were not, but now we have opened the door for a terrorist organization that defies imagination. Why is this?
It is clearly evident that fomenting the earlier “Arab Spring” and subsequently replacing Middle East dictators, all designed to supposedly establish new democratic forms of government there, didn’t exactly work, despite the earlier reassurances from many experts in the West. The Western intelligentsia entertained high hopes for these new democratic forms of government. Everyone imagined a balanced and civil existence in that part of the world – between two Muslim factions who have hated each other, and warred against each other, for centuries?
In the West in general, and America in particular, we are accustomed to living in what are mistakenly called “democracies.” Despite the clamor for the same in the Middle East, the truth of the matter is, democracies simply can’t work in countries like Libya, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, etc.
The reasons are relatively simple; first and foremost, the inhabitants of these nations lack a pre-eminent virtue necessary to sustain a democratic form of government: individual self-governance. Self-governance is “the act of governing or exercising authority over one’s self.” The concept that people should be free to govern themselves is an incomprehensible truth to many. Secondly, the majority of these populations have no idea of even the concept of a democratic form of government.
The foundations of the freedoms enjoyed by the West are what we know as Judeo-Christian values, an integral and essential part of self-governance. Absent these values, what are the stepping stones to launch a revolutionary leap to something as radical as individual self-government?
Those countries where these perspectives are not an integral part of the societal and political infrastructure are prime candidates for dictatorships, as history demonstrates and an objective view of almost any political map will substantiate.
Pundits, experts and commentators who have forecast the dawn of a new Middle East full of democracies assume that people – who for decades (and in some case, centuries) have not only been subject to, but have in fact been active participants in their own subjugation – will immediately begin thinking and acting like “Westerners” who, for centuries, have never known anything but freedom.
The freedoms inherent in our Western forms of government are based on 1) the value of the individual and 2) responsible self-government. This implies individual responsibility. Without the diligent and consistent application of these principles, which, with the exception of Israel, are almost completely unknown in almost all Middle Eastern cultures, democracy and any variant thereof cannot survive.
The word that is probably thrown about more and understood less than any other word on the current political landscape is democracy. Hopeful, warm, comforting rhetoric to the contrary, democracy is, essentially, mob rule. There are no examples of a pure democracy in existence today because pure democracies simply don’t work. One of the most vivid demonstrations of this conflict of democracy is the French Revolution.
Certainly, the French monarchy of that day cannot be defended, but neither can the wild excesses of the democratic mobs carrying out guillotine justice. The consequences of failing to distinguish between a democracy and a republic leads almost immediately to a violent crisis.
The purpose of a republic is to allow for a cooling off period, a time to debate and consider the merits of any particular person or position. A true democracy, on the other hand, lacks this time of introspection and proceeds immediately to implementation, often by force. Absent the time for review and/or debate, a people can easily end up with a ruthless dictator in power.
Herein lies the genius of the American system. Individuals, elected as representatives – public servants – are given restricted powers and limited governing powers for designated amounts of time. These public servants, to continue to serve, must prove their commitment and adherence to the values of the self-governing individuals who elected them.
The most effective, efficient, stable, successful form of government for the greatest number of people in the last two centuries has not been a democracy, but the American republic. The secret? A majority of self-governing individuals, freely, openly and peacefully debating the issues and, without restraint, voting their consciences and moral values. Absent that, democracy can’t work. What we are witnessing now in the Middle East is evident of this truth.