Somewhere on A1A...

Saturday, June 15, 2002

NRO’s John Derbyshire makes the point that democracy in the Arab world may not be in our interest.

It is, as a matter of fact, the case that democracy in the Arab world is probably not in the interests of the U.S. There are strong reasons to believe that any Arab democracy would swiftly degenerate into fascism and that Arab rulers, though certainly odious, are, on the whole, less hostile to the U.S. and our interests than are the Arab people at large — certainly less than the politically organized opposition in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the UAE, even possibly Iraq. Palestine, too: The current unpopularity of Yasser Arafat among his people, for example, seems to arise from a perception that he is not anti-Semitic and anti-American enough to please them.
He argues that Arab society could not handle rational politics, since the Arab world is locked into a They just can’t figure out how to modernize.
Cargo cults came up in the Melanesian islands of the South Pacific during WWII. The peoples of these places saw the Americans and British come in and build airstrips. Then, when the airstrips were built, planes started to arrive, loaded with cargo. The Melanesians deduced, not altogether unreasonably given their state of knowledge, that if they built airstrips, then planes would come to them, too, likewise bringing cargo. They accordingly hacked makeshift runways out of the jungle and built mock-up control towers out of grass and mud. Then they sat and waited for the cargo to arrive.
You get a cargo-cult flavor in a lot of Third World countries. America has skyscrapers. America is rich and strong. Let's build some skyscrapers — then we'll be rich and strong, too! The idea that the wealth and the strength are rooted in customs, arrangements, laws, liberties, traditions, patterns of thought and behavior and association, and that the skyscrapers are an incidental byproduct, is not well understood.
Also blogged by a Bellicose Woman


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