Is Democracy the Answer to Islamist Terrorism?

(Telegraph-UK) Anton La Guardia - For the past two years, America has pursued the idea that democracy is the answer to Islamist terrorism. Now the Palestinian people have spoken clearly - and they have voted for the terrorists. Other elections have yielded worrying results: the Muslim Brotherhood, the forebear of all radical Sunni movements, did well in Egypt and would have done much better had it not been for the government's crude suppression; a Shia Islamist group with strong ties to Iran is in the driving seat in Iraq; and, in Iran, a radical president with an alarmingly apocalyptic tone has placed his country on a collision course with the West over its nuclear program. If the Syrian regime collapses, it may well be replaced by Islamist radicals. In Saudi Arabia, the alternative to the House of Saud is not Western liberalism but something more akin to the Taliban. Arab leaders - and not a few Europeans - will be muttering to the Americans: "We told you so. Allowing the ordinary Muslims to vote freely is a bad idea." Yet this would be the wrong lesson to draw. The popularity of political Islam reflects the bankruptcy of the political order that has gone before. When the state fails, as it has done across the Middle East since the end of the colonial era, then Muslims instinctively turn to the mosque. Palestinian leaders have turned weakness into a diplomatic art-form, telling Israel and the West they needed more concessions in order to have the authority to take on Hamas. With the terrorists in office, there should be no such ambiguity. When the suicide bombs go off, the address for protests will be the office of the Palestinian prime minister.

2006-01-27 00:00:00

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