Andrew often comments on this blog and I am pleased to bring his thoughts to you.
The original post is here.
Here’s Andrew -
I had an interesting discussion with a friend of mine the other day regarding the odds of successfully establishing self sustaining representative democracys in the Middle East. He borught up a good point. Every facet of our lives, and what is expected from us as citizens, is based on our cultural system of values. While an individual can easily become “enlightened” to the ideas of freedom and democracy, its much harder to change the cultural value system of an entire society to progress one way or another. When you look at different scales of human interaction (from the individual, to the family, to the community, to the state… all the way up), you see different sociological mechanisms becoming dominant.
These dictators remind me of the Joker in the new batman movie. What they are telling the masses has a ring of truth to it. The problem is that they pervert the line of reasoning towards their benefit, or they take it too far to an extreme. It is true that it takes a lot longer for a culture to naturally develop into a new system of values. In the West, we had our Enlightenment period in the 18th century in which the inertia of cultural values finally gave way to the way to our current system of values. The middle east didnt really go through that period the way we did. So while you can easily find a middle easterner to agree that freedom and democracy are good for values for the middle east, the emotional need to break that cultural inertia seems to not have reached that critical point yet.
I predict that it wont be 30 years after we are completely out of Afghanistan and Iraq before their democracies (that we gave to them, they didnt earn it like we had to.) are in shambles and new dictators arise to take power.