Saturday, November 03, 2007

Natan Sharansky and Democracy

The latest interview with Natan Sharansky covers, of course, democracy in the Middle East:
...The war in Iraq and the rise of Hamas in the Palestinian territories, aided by the ballot box, are Exhibits A and B in the case against the Bush Doctrine and its contention that democracy can put down roots in Arab soil.

Mr. Sharansky considers these cases immaterial. "What's happening today in Iraq has nothing to do with the question whether promoting democracy is a good idea, or whether people in Iraq want to live in freedom." The Iraqis' refusal to defend Saddam Hussein and courage in voting for a new constitution and parliament settled that argument for Mr. Sharansky. Iraq's Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites are, he says, engaged in a different, no less ferocious struggle over "identity"--his current obsession, and the subject of his next book.

The victory of Hamas in last year's Palestinian elections is widely considered a defeat for the Bush Doctrine. Mr. Sharansky recalls seeing friends at the White House the day of the vote. "They said, 'Oh, it's the first time, it's a good experiment.' And I said, 'I fully disagree. It's a terrible experiment!' Now of course they come back and say, 'You see, you want to promote democracy and you get Hamas.'"

As he argued in his bestselling book, the West confuses the ballot box with democracy. "The election has to be at the end of the process of building free society," he says. "If there is no free and democratic society, elections can never be free and democratic." [emphasis added]
More than that, the West also confuses talking with Abbas with real diplomacy and good faith negotiations.

[Hat tip: Instapundit]

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