« So Delicious, It Ought To Be Illegal | Main | Troubled Waters »

Will You Answer What Congress Won't? The Top 20 Questions pt 3

Back in late 2004 and early 2005, I sent emails, faxes, and letters to every member of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. In it, I asked them for their answer to a set of twenty questions which the readers of Polipundit wanted asked. The text of the letter was posted here.

52 Readers in 38 states joined the effort, asking their district Representatives and Senators to answer the questions. Response from our elected Representatives and Senators was poor, predictably so. Most Congressmen and Senators simply ignored the letters, emails and faxes. In the end, only seventeen answered with any degree of substance, and not one answered more than two questions.

I was looking at the set of questions this week, and you know, they still look like good questions to me, so I am going to ask you for your opinion on them. This will take a while, since I am putting up one question for each post, but please give this your serious consideration. And folks, this is not about politics or smacking down the other side; this is an opportunity to explore the issues of substance for our country. Sad that Congress was not up to it, but maybe we can get the conversation going. Thanks in advance.

3. Is there a better solution to Middle East turmoil, than the establishment or promotion of freely elected democratic republics? Why or why not?


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (27)

Is there a better soluti... (Below threshold)

Is there a better solution to Middle East turmoil, than the establishment or promotion of freely elected democratic republics? Why or why not?

No, but we are incapable of establishing them. Not for lack of will, but because of the realities of the Middle East (especially Arab) countries. Those realities, economic, political, and cultural, prevent an extremely powerful (economically, militarily) force from succeeding in forcing any system, no matter how benign or even beneficial, onto the people. Ethnic strife, Arab pride, tribal loyalties, and long history of widespread corruption make the prospect of establishing liberal democracy extraordinarily difficult even for locals, let alone for a suspect foreign military force, for which it is impossible.

A different model must be tried, one which attempts to foster and encourage the development of economic policies and education that create an environment in which liberal democracy can develop. The large, well educated middle class and relatively homogeneous ethnic population of Iran makes that nation a good candidate (non-Arab though), but even that is obviously fraught with problems, and the Iraq model would certainly fail there as well.

Protracted military occupation is making success in establishing liberal democracy less likely, not moreso. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

If you remember, the... (Below threshold)
Authority Figure:

If you remember, the Iraqi's didn't even get the guy they voted for as president -- we installed a different guy, then we installed a different, different guy.

1 day of purple fingers + 4 years of 500lb depleted uranium bombs = democracy?

Neither of the first two co... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Neither of the first two comments even attempts to answer the question.

Perhaps the question itself... (Below threshold)

Perhaps the question itself needs a bit more analysis. What exactly is the problem that needs solving, and who is expected to provide the solution?

For example: Is the problem that the United States depends on natural resources in the area, and the turmoil threatens the availability of those resources?

Is it that the turmoil in the area provides a breeding ground for hostile activity which will threaten our citizens on our homeland?

Is it that the turmoil causes a humanitarian crisis for the residents of the area?

Each of these problems individually might be solved in a better way than establishing a democratic republic.

The original question implicitly assumes that the turmoil itself is the problem in need of resolution. The point is that we don't necessarily need to solve the turmoil itself, but need to address the problems caused by such turmoil. Resolving the turmoil is one possible solution, but going around the turmoil is another.

The question is clear. So ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

The question is clear. So is the evasion by the Left.

Who is- and how are- these... (Below threshold)
Authority Figure:

Who is- and how are- these "democratic republics" being established? Are you talking about establishing these democratic republics by military force? By years and years of diplomacy, cultural and commercial exchange, education and help in establishing democratic infrastructures, bureaucracies, courts, and honest police, etc.?

If you could bring about peace in the Middle East by "establishing or promoting" democratic republics why even bother with another solution but that's a big assumption.

You seem to be having troub... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

You seem to be having trouble with the concepts, AF, so let's look at some real world cases. Should the United States show preference, for example, to Israel over Syria, seeing as Israel is a democracy and Syria most certainly is not? Should the United States promote good relations with Turkey over Iran, again seeing that Turkey is making attempts to democratize their nation while Iran is a rigid theocracy where teenaged girls are killed on the accusation of having had premarital sex? Should the United States help promote the development of Iraq's nascent democratic government, or should the US just abandon Iraq the way the Left has been demanding for half a decade?

What is your basis for your position?

That should make the question plain enough. I am curious to see if you can answer it with serious consideration and respect for the millions who will live or die by the decision of the United States government.

DJ, I put forth a serious ... (Below threshold)

DJ, I put forth a serious question which challenged certain assumptions I saw in the original question, and you respond with a political label, in direct violation of your own ground rules. Do you really want serious consideration of your questions, or simply a validation of your already established opinion?

...but please give this your serious consideration. And folks, this is not about politics or smacking down the other side; this is an opportunity to explore the issues of substance for our country.

That's double-talk Glen, an... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

That's double-talk Glen, and you know it.

Your comments presented assumptions not supported by evidence, but favorites of the red-faced Left. 'War for Oil', 'We're just making new terrorists', and similar lies we've heard for years, and which by the way have been refuted so many times that it's patently absurd to rehash them here. The only explanation for repeating them here, is because you fear the real topic; that a stable Middle East is somehow bad for your ideology.

I called you on it, and now you play 'Michael Moore'.

The question is quite clear, as I said. I must presume it is simply inconvenient for you to actually address it.

You ask:Sho... (Below threshold)
Authority Figure:

You ask:
Should the United States help promote the development of Iraq's nascent democratic government, or should the US just abandon Iraq the way the Left has been demanding for half a decade?

Again -- "show a preference" "promote" -- what does that mean? Bombing as opposed to not bombing? A cultural exchange of modern dance troops?

To attempt to answer your question -- I would have to say it depends on how it's done.

As I was taugh in a class, ... (Below threshold)

As I was taugh in a class, there are 4 ways to influence foreign countries. (or get them to create a governemnt in this case). Of those 5 ways, it becomes crystal clear to a rational indivdual that 4 of them will not work against religious fanatics. This leaves us with choice 5 - Military force.

The 5 ways:

1. Diplomatic persuaion
2. Political persuasion
3. Economic Persuasion
4. Religious persuasion
5. Military force

Educating Americans about o... (Below threshold)
Authority Figure:

Educating Americans about other cultures would be the place to start.

The complete lack of respect and open mocking of Iraqi culture when we attacked Iraq doesn't help promote democracy.

How about setting up American universities where young people from the Middle East can VOLUNTARILY go to learn about democratic institutions and other cultures?

Final Warning - Any furt... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Final Warning - Any further attempts to hijack the thread and smear the US government, Americans or the Troops will result in disenvowelment.

I wasn't referring to the t... (Below threshold)
Authority Figure:

I wasn't referring to the troops.

DJ,Honestly, Middl... (Below threshold)


Honestly, Middle East turmoil truly needs a better definition. The Middle East has been in turmoil since at least the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, and most of the time during and before then.

3. Is there a better solution to Middle East turmoil, than the establishment or promotion of freely elected democratic republics? Why or why not?

If the goal is stability and ending the turmoil they are probably many other ways to do it. If the only "choice" is democracy being forced at the end of a gun, we need to reconsider our place in the world.

I believe there was a better solution. If Once a regime is removed let the people of the country decide for themselves through public referendum what kind of government they want. If it is a democracy, fine. If a republic, fine. If a constitutional monarchy, great. It they want foaming at the mouth religious fanactics, so be it. If they want to tear themselves apart in a civil war and then rebuild a country let them have at it.

What kind of choice does a country have when the conquerer is saying "Democracy or else?"

DJ,I guess we have... (Below threshold)


I guess we have to agree with you to post?

Letting people decide whether or not they want democracy is a legitamate different answer.

You can look at it in sever... (Below threshold)

You can look at it in several different ways.

Is a dictatorship preferrable to a democracy? Would it depend upon who the dictator was and whom he pledged his allegiance to?

In the short term, sometimes the dictatorship is more advantageous, as it give you a strong known element to deal with. However, looking at the short term while disregarding the long term only leads to worse problems down the road.

A democracy (or republic) seems to be the most stable, citizen friendly form of government that there is. However, the Middle East (and other areas) have significant drawbacks in implimenting them. When a nation doesn't have a background in democratic rule, one can not expect them to learn the rules and responsibilities that go along with it overnight. As with any new system, it takes time to adjust to it. And those elements that used to have absolute control never go easily.

The drawback of a dictatorship is that they can easily change with the administration of a small lead pill. Usually leaders of that caliber don't make for stable governments. And dictators generally have an ego problem. Few seem content to stay within the confines of their borders.

No Matt, you can disagree, ... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

No Matt, you can disagree, but you cannot hijack the stage, smear the government or insult the troops or the American people.

Simple enough.

How about setting up Ame... (Below threshold)

How about setting up American universities where young people from the Middle East can VOLUNTARILY go to learn about democratic institutions and other cultures?

You must lead a sheltered life, that's already going on in schools across the country and has been for many years.
I went to a small, state university in lovely Utica, NY and they actively recruited people from the middle east.
There were a bunch of Kuwaitis and another, large group of Saudis in only the mechanical engineering dept. I have no idea as to any other deptartments but I've seen the same thing in other schools like Northeastern and MIT.

IMO, the answer to DJ's question is "No, we've tried other stuff and it didn't work."

Anyone who says yes and talks about "realpolitick" in any way, shape or form, is ignoring the last 60 years in the middle east and the last century in American relations.

Or was it right to install the Shah?

DJMy humble apolog... (Below threshold)


My humble apologies, I didn't realize I was doing any of the above.

May I try again?

Is there a better solution to Middle East turmoil, than the establishment or promotion of freely elected democratic republics? Why or why not?

Maybe there is be a better answer. Lets look to the countries in the Middle East that are relatively stable and see if we can replicate that in the unstable countries. Since they are generally Arab and Muslim, and not suffering widespread unrest, those governments must be doing something the people find at least acceptable.

Can we use Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, as a model for what works and pattern an Iraqi government after that?

Can we use Yemen, Saudi ... (Below threshold)

Can we use Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Bahrain, as a model for what works and pattern an Iraqi government after that?

Yemen and Saudi Arabia export terrorism.
Jordan might be okay, they mostly keep their mouths shut and try not to get their butts kicked by Jews anymore, but they're not free. Look into how they treat their Palestinian population for an idea on why they might not be a good example.
Qatar and Bahrain are also problematic, they're fairly small and have lots of oil so they can afford to pay their citizens not to work, like Saudi Arabia but smaller so their population is richer.

All of those countries that have oil have to import westerners to pump the oil.

Israel is the only really successful country in that region.
Democracies/Republics are the best form of gov't as far as threatening their neighbors.

I don't believe in the democratic peace model (not enough history and people are very good at figuring out ways to start wars), but they're definitely much more peaceful and usually less expansionistic than totalitarian states.

Thanks Matt, for restarting... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

Thanks Matt, for restarting. I don't want to be harsh, but on this topic it's very common for people to get off on tangents and pressing old feuds, which just destroys the discussion.

One thought I would toss in here, is that very few of the Middle East governments have been autonomous for any historically significant period of time. That makes them unstable from the start.

DJ,I truly ... (Below threshold)


I truly agree that for the middle east, anywhere actually, good solid democratically elected governments are the best short and long term answers.
The real challenge in the case of Iraq, Iran and ultimately the Palestinian area is to give the people a chance at democracy without the proccess being hijacked by extremists that would start the problems all over again.

i would say that there is a... (Below threshold)
Dave W:

i would say that there is always a better solution to everything. So yes, there more than likely is a better solution. Unfortunately i think only hindsight can provide those solutions as we cannot predict how things will unfold in the future.

On a broad level though, i do not believe there is any other way than to introduce democracy to the middle east. It might not be as successful as we want right now, but it is introduced. We are leading by example and allowing the Iraqis to do the same over in the middle east. The only people who would say that freedom and democracy is not for middle easterners are the same people that attempt to deny freedoms in western cultures through the use of threats (look at the limbaugh vs the senate and the letter they wrote to intimidate a private citizen), also look at the same people that want to remove choice from people as far as what to eat, drink, smoke all using the idea of "the common good". These people want to run a socialist system.

Anyone who says that freedom and democracy isn't a good starting point for a country, no matter where they are, are the same people that don't believe in freedom and democracy as a working ideal to found a nation upon.

Europe no doubt said that democracy was a ruse back when it was established in the Americas in 1776. We had our supporters, but i guarantee we had our detractors as well.

Freedom and democracy can flourish anywhere.

My own Republican Senator, ... (Below threshold)

My own Republican Senator, Gordon Smith, makes an excellent effort to personally respond to every Email with a very nice and honest reply. If he happens to disagree with you, then he openly explains it, and tells you why. I would rate Senator Smith as an excellent role model for all politicians to follow.

Some other politicians such as Mitch McConnell make one of the worst attempts at allowing public comments to him, discouraging comments by his own voters and others. High ranking U.S. Senator Joe Biden is another politician very poor at responding to any comments or even most requests for interviews. Does anyone here know more good or bad responding politicians?

I am amazed that so many pe... (Below threshold)
linda Tarricone:

I am amazed that so many people are willing to support governments that oppress its people and keep power in the hands of a few. If the United Nations was at all functional,we would be seeing less of these tyrants in the world. What would happen if all free nations stood their ground for human rights and backed it up with united force? What would have happened in Iraq if the United States had received more support around the world? The message would have been loud and clear,threats to people and their freedoms are not acceptable.It is not a culture that we are at war with but a few savage bullies who are allow to distroy lives and worldwide peace because life and liberty have no meaning to them.How else do you deal with such animals but with war. How the government looks after the majority of these types are gone from power is hard to say but I don't believe you can look at any nation that respects live and liberty and say it doesn't work.

My answer is no, but not be... (Below threshold)
Bill Woessner:

My answer is no, but not because I'm a firm believer in democracy. The issues in the Middle East are much bigger than simply political issues. There are enormous religious and cultural issues that need to be addressed FIRST before democracy stands a chance.

As a great example, just consider Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a stable country, great trading partner, has good relations with the west and generally doesn't cause trouble. Saudi Arabia is also a monarchy, claims the Qur'an is their constitution, has a dismal human rights record and is considered one of the most authoritarian regimes in the world.

Given the choice, would you remove the Saudi royal family and install a democracy? The current regime is stable and not a source of turmoil. On the other hand, there's good reason to believe that a democratically-elected government would, at the very least, have a strong extremist component. No thanks.






Follow Wizbang

Follow Wizbang on FacebookFollow Wizbang on TwitterSubscribe to Wizbang feedWizbang Mobile


Send e-mail tips to us:

[email protected]

Fresh Links


Section Editor: Maggie Whitton

Editors: Jay Tea, Lorie Byrd, Kim Priestap, DJ Drummond, Michael Laprarie, Baron Von Ottomatic, Shawn Mallow, Rick, Dan Karipides, Michael Avitablile, Charlie Quidnunc, Steve Schippert

Emeritus: Paul, Mary Katherine Ham, Jim Addison, Alexander K. McClure, Cassy Fiano, Bill Jempty, John Stansbury, Rob Port

In Memorium: HughS

All original content copyright © 2003-2010 by Wizbang®, LLC. All rights reserved. Wizbang® is a registered service mark.

Powered by Movable Type Pro 4.361

Hosting by ServInt

Ratings on this site are powered by the Ajax Ratings Pro plugin for Movable Type.

Search on this site is powered by the FastSearch plugin for Movable Type.

Blogrolls on this site are powered by the MT-Blogroll.

Temporary site design is based on Cutline and Cutline for MT. Graphics by Apothegm Designs.

Author Login

Terms Of Service

DCMA Compliance Notice

Privacy Policy