Voting Isn't Democracy

(Los Angeles Times) Eytan Gilboa - Hamas' victory reveals a major strategic deficiency in the American design for democracy in the Middle East. Current U.S. policy will not lead to democracy because democracy is much more than elections. Democracy is based on values, institutions, and constitutions - that by their very democratic nature cannot empower Islamic terrorist organizations such as Hamas. Commentators have suggested that radical Islamic movements become more moderate and pragmatic when they assume power. After 25 years, the Islamic theocracy in Iran is still extremist; the Taliban established a repressive regime in Afghanistan; and Hizballah remains a terrorist organization, although it has representatives in the Lebanese government. In the months ahead, Hamas is more likely to create a strategic relationship with Islamic radical forces such as Iran and Hizballah than to forge serious ties with the West. Democratizing the Middle East will take many years, and instant elections, however successful and legitimate, will prove insufficient in the quest for true democracy. The writer, a professor of politics and communication at Bar-Ilan University, currently is a visiting professor of public diplomacy at the Annenberg School for Communication at USC.

2006-02-01 00:00:00

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