Thursday, January 26, 2006
Islamic fundamentalists who oppose U.S. interests in the Middle East have benefited from the U.S. policy of promoting democracy, making significant gains in recent elections.
Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East expert at the non-partisan Congressional Research Service, says the United States has pressured Egypt, Iraq and the Palestinian territories to hold free elections.
"The pro-democracy effort has had the actual effect of strengthening fundamentalist movements," Katzman says.
Ladies and gentlemen, for the zillionth time I say: democracy is not just about ballot boxes and ballots and happy faces throwing pieces of paper in a box. Democracy cannot be separated from the values of liberal democracy, from the values that many of you take for granted. Values such as human rights, minorities rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to change religions, equality, women rights, and the seperation of religion and politics. Values that are found in Protestant America, Catholic Italy, Buddhist Korea, and Shinto Japan. These values won't arrive on our shores unless we experience religious reform, when Islam signs a peace contract with the year 2006 and not 1006. It's the same peace contract that Christianity in Europe signed. Religious reform was a main catalyst for the advancement of the West.
Apart from Lebanon, I don't smell any democracy in all these Middle East countries that just held elections. Some might say that the ballot box will eventually lead to the values of liberal democracy. That might be true, but unfortunately, I'm not really looking forward for that day. You know why? Because I'll be a dead man rotting in my grave when that happens. I just hope my children will see this day, when Muslim Egypt will adopt the same values that exist in Protestant America, Catholic Italy, Buddhist South Korea, and Shinto Japan.