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Democratic Domino Theory

Simon W. Moon

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We're all familiar with the domino theory currently being pimped- a liberated Iraq will create a democratic ME. (Yes, I realize that this is an oversimplification.)
But, as we all also know, saying something doesn't make it so.
What's the evidence that the domino theory'll work?

The domino theory is an essential element of the social engineering rationale for the invasion of Iraq presented by various neocons.
There should be some serious effort to explain and understand the mechanics that will effect the democratization of the ME and how this democratization will make the US safer.

How will a liberated Baghdad be so different from Cairo, and Islamabad?
Both Egypt and Pakistan are rife with Islamists, militant ones even.

Why will Iraqi democracy have more effect on the region than Turkish, Jordanian and Israeli democracy, (not to mention the various nominal democracies in the region)? Turkey and Jordan are arguably proximate to Iraq, yet the signs of their proximity having had this reformist effect on Iraq are hard to come by.

What mechanisms will cause the spread of democratic reforms from Iraq outward to the rest of the region?

If this spread does indeed occur via whatever mechanisms, what will make the reformed ME any different than Egypt, Pakistan et al?

And most importantly, how will this make the US any safer?


from Bounding the Global War on Terrorism,
(An Army War College paper
):
The problem with this new domino theory is the same as the problem with the old one: it assumes that states and societies are essentially equal in vulnerability to the “threat” (i.e., democracy in the Middle East today, Communism in Southeast Asia in the 1960s).
It ignores local circumstance, societal differences, separate national histories, and cultural asymmetries. It also ignores the prospect of those opposed to democracy using the democratic process to seize power, as did Hitler in Germany in 1933. “One man, one vote, one time.” It was this very threat of Islamists using democracy to win power that provoked the suppression of budding democratic institutions in Algeria in the early 1990s. Indeed, fear of an Islamist electorate accounts in no small measure for the persistence of autocracy in Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Are U.S. strategic interests in the Muslim world really better served by hostile democracies than by friendly autocracies?

It is...not...self-evident that anti-Western Islamist terrorism would cease or even significantly diminish with the emergence of friendly democracies and economic opportunity in the Middle East. Home-grown terrorism is certainly no stranger to the democratic West (the second deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history was Timothy McVeigh’s destruction of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people), and at least one study concludes that the incidence of nonstate terrorism is higher in free societies than in nonfree ones. (Nonstate terrorism was notable for its absence in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.)
RECONSTRUCTING IRAQ: INSIGHTS,
CHALLENGES, AND MISSIONS FOR MILITARY
FORCES IN A POST-CONFLICT SCENARIO
p. 25
Another paper from the Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute (.pdf)
hould democracy or even pluralistic political stability
be established in Iraq, this would be a tremendous
achievement of which all could be proud. Nevertheless, U.S.
policymakers sometimes assume that a democratic
government will also be friendly to U.S. policies in the
Middle East. This cannot be assumed in the case of Iraq. At
the present time, the only Arab leader who has been elected
in a fair election is Palestinian President Yassir Arafat, who
is clearly not the favored U.S. choice.
Likewise, in the Gulf,
Islamists have done extremely well in recent legislative
elections in Bahrain. The Kuwaiti parliament has a strong
Islamist grouping, and free elections in other states could
duplicate this situation. Free elections in the Arab world
seldom produce pro-Western governments.
 
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