When Democracy Isn’t Good Enough

The American attitude towards the recent years of turmoil in the Middle East really bothers me.

We Americans have this elitist, self-centered notion that our democracy is automatically the best system in the world, and that as the epitome of good government, it is our job to bring our system to the poor, underrepresented people around the world.

Let me first point out that our government is not the model of functioning democracy as of late. We can’t even manage to pass a much needed budget plan. That being said, our system of checks and balances has been successful (maybe a little bit too much), and the American people are given freedoms and basic rights that every human deserves.

But, it is possible that while our system of government might be the best for our society, that does not mean that it is the best solution for everyone else on the planet.

So in this crazy Middle East situation, is promoting democracy really the best idea?

I don’t like Assad. I don’t think any rational person would. He is an abusive dictator that kills his own people. Qaddafi was in the same category, as were/are many other despotic rulers in the region. I firmly believe that every person under those horrible rulers deserves to have his basic human rights: freedom to pursue the life that they choose, freedom to express themselves. But over here in America, even the freedom of speech comes with stipulations. Someone cannot go into a movie theater and yell “fire” if there is none. One can’t threaten the president’s life, or speak of terrorist activity or plane hijacking in an airport without being detained, regardless of their actual intentions.

Well, over there in the Middle East, where radical Islam has taken over, freedom and democracy are used as means for large radical groups, hell bent on destroying Israel and the West through terror and violence, to be voted into power. Is Hamas made legitimate simply because it was elected by the people of Gaza, people that have been indoctrinated to believe that firing rockets at civilians will solve all of their problems? Are we to support the Muslim Brotherhood because it was democratically elected? Is the group of Syrian rebels affiliated with Al Qaeda a better alternative to the Assad regime?

My answer is an absolute not a chance.

The Middle East is fundamentally different from the US and other western nations. Their countries were not formed in the same manner, and their peoples have not developed in the same direction. We can’t take a system that works for a nation of mostly rational and liberal people and impose it on historically tribal nations suddenly awash with this crazy notion of violent Islamism, letting them elect governments that can run amok and terrorize the world. We must first teach tolerance, acceptance, and understanding and erase the radicalism that has taken over before we can expect the countries of the region to build just and lasting republics that can engage appropriately in international affairs.

The Middle Eastern nations are not ready for a representative democracy such as the one we have created. They have proven this by electing such hateful leadership. We should not blindly support this idealistic notion of “democracy for all” when such ideas do not provide for a better solution than past and current rulers. We need to find a way to promote freedom and to create open societies from the ground up.

So America, stop imposing these unrealistic, unfitting ideas that do not work for everyone. Try to actually evaluate and understand the situation and the history leading up to it. Work on creating individual solutions to build productive societies for the people that truly deserve it, not the hateful murderers that have taken advantage of their new-found freedoms.

About the Author
Daniella Berger is a student at the University of Maryland, College Park, studying Middle East History and Government and Politics; A native of Houston, Texas, she is currently interning in DC with a member of the US House of Representatives; Daniella is involved in both the Jewish and pro-Israel communities on her campus and in the surrounding Maryland area.