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Monday, February 28, 2005

Democracy Promotion 

I had a post a while ago criticizing the Administration for being a little less excited about the democracy promotion part of their democratization program than they are about the "bombing shit" aspect of their democratization program.

Well, there's been some (at least apparent) gaining of ground in the democratization game. Egypt's Hosni Mubarak announced last week (click the link...it's a personal goal of mine to get to the point in life where I can speak in front of that kind of backdrop to a world audience) that he would be allowing actual contenders to run against him for president.

Then yesterday, the protestors in Lebanon apparently applied enough pressure to convince the pro-Syrian government to resign en masse from their hold on power.

Both of these things are announcements of things that have not actually happened yet, but it would be a little overpessimistic not to see them as steps in the right direction generally.

What do I think about these developments? I don't know enough to make any really informed judgments, but I will make one broad stroke that applies to Iraq as well. What if democracy means Islamic law? Egypt is, despite flaws, a relatively (relative to Iran, etc.) secular state. Would it be an improvement if truly free elections led to the installment of a theocratic regime?

I think that as long as there is some constitutional limitations on power and assurances that the government can change over time, this would not necessarily be a bad thing. In other words, if the Islamic state was nonpermanent and could be changed by vote, that's just democracy in action. But what of the decision of some Iraqi politicians to support enshrining Islam in the constitution?

More questions than answers, but hope underlying it all. The events in Lebanon are especially compelling and inspiring, even though the agenda of the protestors aside from "Syria out!" is rather shrouded in uncertainty.

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