The Zionist Conspiracy
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Natan Sharansky and the PA Elections
Natan Sharansky has long argued that the conditions for moderation in the Arab and Muslim world can be found only via democratic means, by giving the people a chance to choose their own leaders.
Many have ridiculed Sharansky, and at first glance, in light of the election results in Iran and in the Palestinian Authority, Sharansky's critics would appear to be right in arguing that democracy often makes things worse.
Perhaps Sharansky is indeed naive. Yet the criticism of Sharansky based on recent events is completely offbase, because his arguments have still not been tested at all.
As Sharansky has explained, particularly in his book, The Case For Democracy, merely holding elections in a purportedly democratic manner is insufficient. Instead, for democracy to take root, the society in question must first be free, where anyone can publicly express their views without fear of repercussions.
Clearly, these conditions do not exist in Iran - where the candidates for election did not include any real moderates - or in the PA, where the choice was between Fatah, Hamas and smaller terror groups like PFLP.
Similarly, in Egypt, moderate parties opposed to the Mubarak dictatorship were barred by Mubarak from running in the recent election, with some reformers sent to prison.
Under the circumstances in which the elections were held in Iran, Egypt and the PA, it is almost certainly true that the elections were a pointless exercise likely to make things worse. The Bush Administration's apparent notion that the mere holding of elections is progress toward democracy is amateurish and was sure to backfire in the manner that it did.