Saturday, January 29, 2005

Call on the River

The big bet that President Bush placed all these months ago, the bet that the root cause of Islamic Fundamentalism was the repressive, totalitarian regimes these people lived in, is being called as Iraq has elections tomorrow.

Terrorist are staging attacks to intimidate voters because, in the words of Al Zarqawi, democracy is toxic to their flavour of Islamic teaching. Bush is betting on that being true, which is why he reversed decades of American policy promoting stability in the Middle East through dictatorship and embraced instability through voting.

Voting will not solve Iraq's problems. On Feb 1st, the day after the polls, Iraq will not become rich, or enlightened. Voting will, however, give Iraqis someone near to blame for their lot instead of letting them fester in the paranoid conspiracy theories that are common in the Middle East. Pakistan tried democracy a while ago and ended up with two kleptocrats who looted the country every chance they got. Musharraf's coup was a blessing in that it brought better governance to the country. But now he's made it clear that he's not going anywhere, and the Islamic parties who have never done very well in Pakistan are now on the rise.

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