Saturday, January 08, 2005

Democracy building, one party at a time

Matthew Yglesias comments on Palestinian democracy, and the fact that there's only one real candidate, making a point similar to the one I'll be making about the U.S. view about El Salvador in my upcoming article in Current History.
This is the main dilemma of Arab political reform a la Bush writ large. There's a desire to promote democracy, but this desire is inextricably bound to the notion that democracy will advance highly specific outcomes. We saw it for a long time in Iraq, too. We wanted the Iraqi people to elect a government of their own, as long as that government was headed by Chalabi or Pachnachi. Fortunately, we've managed to half-heartedly abandon that view, but only after it was probably too late. In Palestine, we want democracy, but only if democracy means Abu Mazen. Throughout the Middle East, we want democratically elected leaders only if those leaders will be the much-heralded moderates.

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