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Thesis & Antithesis

A critical perspective on energy, international politics & current affairs

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Location: Washington, D.C.

greekdefaultwatch@gmail.com Natural gas consultant by day, blogger on the Greek economy by night. Trained as an economist and political scientist. I believe in common sense and in data, and my aim is to offer insight written in language that is clear and convincing.

24 January 2006

Unfortunate elections

A Wall Street Journal editorial ponders the paradox of America’s democracy promotion in the Middle East: “Free elections may well produce governments composed of Muslim radicals who promote terror and have little respect for pluralism. This is a troubling prospect. And yet banning Hamas was probably unrealistic and might well have increased its popular appeal. Our sense is that if democracy is truly going to take root in the Middle East, then Islamists are going to have to be allowed to compete for power. Once in power they might even become more responsible, and voters will have a chance to judge them on their actions instead of their promises.”

There is something interesting here and its springs not just from an odd paradox which is fascinating to ponder, but rather from what that paradox reveals about American policy. What I was trying to get across in my earlier post (Condi & realism), is that the American tendency to presume an identity between democracy and the promotion of American interests is not only questionable, but it is also unrealistic. As long as America cannot make its peace with the kind of regimes that may emerge from elections, its policy will prove confused and will be pursued only halfheartedly. It is this prospect alone which would force policymakers to question whether the democracy-promotion conceptual lens really suffices in dealing with so troubled and so complex a region.

(1) “Palestinian elections,” Wall Street Journal, 24 Jan 06


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