Thursday, October 26


Isn't that just jim-dandy? Bush is so eager to spread democracy around the world that he invades Iraq, bungles the job and as a result gives Syrians a reason to support their dictator instead. Talk about the law of unintended consequences.

Advocates of democracy are equated now with supporters of America, even "traitors," said Maan Abdul Salam, 36, a Damascus publisher who has coordinated conferences on women's rights and similar topics.

"Now, talking about democracy and freedom has become very difficult and sensitive," Salam said. "The people are not believing these thoughts anymore. When the U.S. came to Iraq, it came in the name of democracy and freedom. But all we see are bodies, bodies, bodies."

Ordinary people in Syria are hunkering down, and probably rightly so, said Omar Amiralay, a well-known Syrian filmmaker whose documentaries are quietly critical of Assad's one-family rule.

"If democracy brings such chaos in the region, and especially the destruction of society, as it did in Iraq and in Lebanon, it's absolutely normal, and I think it's absolutely a wise position from the people to be afraid to imagine how it would be in Syria," Amiralay said. "I think that people at the end said, 'Well, it is better to keep this government. We know them, and we don't want to go to this civil war, and to live this apocalyptic image of change, with civil war and sectarianism and blood.' "

Well, yeah. People want to live their lives in relative security, not watch the bodies of their loved ones, friends and neighbors piling up in the streets. They'll surrender a certain amount of "freedom" if they think it's necessary to protect their very lives. Haven't we witnessed the exact same tendency in the United States the past few years? How else have Bush-Cheney-Rove been able to expand their power and shrink the civil liberties of the average American?

An essay on YaleGlobal OnLine points out that the "fatal flaw in US policy has been its neglect of civil order as a foundation of sovereignty and democracy, first in Afghanistan and Iraq and then in Lebanon, where the US, along with Europe and the United Nations, was lulled while watching the televised Cedar Revolution into letting Hezbollah’s arms buildup sabotage Lebanon’s sovereignty and Israel’s security. Finally, the Iraq intervention was predicated on the fallacy that instability would foster progressive political change, but regional instability has thus far emboldened anti-democratic forces that now vie for supremacy."

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