The "Threat" of Democracy

The realists are striking back against the president's war for democracy and against Islamism. Is he pursuing a complete contradiction? Long-term, you can see the logic in principle. In the short run, in the actual Middle East, Jim Baker's prejudice in favor of "consensual authoritarianism" seem to have the weight of the recent evidence behind it:

The reason democracy is losing the competition is that consensual authoritarianism produces security for its peoples, and exports security to its neighbors and the world.  We musn't be blind to these facts: these regimes cooperate with the world in combating terrorism and containing an aggressive Iran, they have peace treaties with Israel or float peace initiatives, they don't threaten or intervene in the internal affairs of other countries, and they don't seek weapons of mass destruction. None of them has gone to war in the last thirty-plus years.

And who are the net exporters of insecurity? These are states that have multi-polar or pluralistic systems: Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and what some call Palestine. These systems aren't democracies, but in terms of formal practices like elections, they've actually gone the longer distance. Yet they don't provide security for their peoples, and they export insecurity, in the form of terrorism, refugees, radical Islam, and nuclear threats.  What's discouraging is that this isn't true in only some of the cases, or only half of them. It's true, for now, in all if them.

By fostering radical insecurity as well as a formal democratic process in Iraq, we may well have poisoned its reputation for the foreseeable future. And, alas, no Gersonian rhetoric from the president will undo the chaos Rumsfeld deliberately created. In simpler terms:

Baghdad is not Bonn, Beirut is not Warsaw, and Tehran is not Prague.

Burke would understand.