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When the Bad Guys Win

Today’s Hamas victory is one of the problems in President Bush’s policy to push democracy as the answer to the problems in the Mideast. What happens when the really bad guys win? It’s just a tad bit hypocritical to push democracy and elections, and then when you get results you don’t like say we don’t recognize your government.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not necessarily arguing that we should recognize Hamas, only pointing out one of the serious flaws in preaching democracy as a cure all.

I have said this before, when you are transitioning an authoritarian society that has never known democracy the preferable way is to establish the rule of law, a strongly capitalist economy and thus a growing middle class, and then over time a phase in of increased democratic reforms. This allows a country to grow into a functioning democracy and gives it the foundation to succeed. To just go from dictatorship to free elections, in a society that has only known corruption and poverty is a prescription for disaster.

Obviously we face some of these same risks in Iraq. However unlike the Palestinians, Iraq had a relatively educated, functioning society pre-Saddam Hussein and not un-importantly has tremendous oil resources, and these assets might give it enough of a foundation to accomplish the transition from Hussein’s dictatorship to democracy successfully.

We’ll see.