Livin' it up, American style

Thursday, November 23, 2006

America, defender of democracy and freedom everywhere! Oops, I meant destroyer, not defender.

So there was this theory that when Saddam was gone, Iraq would get install/elect a new government, preferably a democratic one. This new democratic nation would become an shining example of Mid-East democracy, and one by one, all the surrounding nations would soon have to succumb to this wonderful type of government. This is similar to the idea that if Vietnam was to become communist back in the 60's, the rest of Asia would also inevitably turn communist. Well, that turned out not to be true, and we are also seeing that the exact opposite is happening in the Mid-East region. Because of America's invasion in Iraq, there is actually now less support for democratic reforms in the Middle-East.

Syria is now the last country that is run by the Ba'ath party, of which Saddam was also a member. Despite promises of democratic reforms, current president Bashar al-Assad has been very slow in enacting any new policies. There had been an active democratic rights movement in Syria, but they are now hampered by the war in Iraq. The normal people on the street who were once sympathetic to the idea of democracy have seen the chaos and civil war that 'democracy' brought in Iraq, and they don't want that in Syria.

These new anti-democracy sentiment has also emboldened president Assad. There is no longer a large public demand for democratic reforms. He has been cracking down on pro-democracy supporters and other critics of the government, and he can do this in the name of stability and public safety. While there may be restricted freedoms and no democracy, Syria is a stable country. There is no civil war, or daily car bombings. Syrians look around at Iraq and Lebanon and Palestine, and think that maybe they don't have it so bad, and reform really isn't that necessary.

So instead of bringing democracy to the region, we've brought an inevitable civil war in Iraq and less support for democracy among Syrians and most likely other Middle Easterners. Well, that's just great. Way to go, America. If you want more details on why Syrians don't want democracy and how Assad has been persecuting activists, read this Washington Post article.


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