Friday, February 18, 2005

The Paradigm Shifts

New Sisyphus, a member of the State Department Republican underground has a must-read post that begins with a cry from one of his friends:

"Don't you understand? They hate our guts and everything we stand for! They don't want us there and, believe me, we don't want to be there!"

He then goes on to compare the rise of National Socialism in Germany and the origins of WWII and the current situation with Islamofascism. But here is the crux of his argument:

Many liberal critics (and those of the paleo-right) sneer when speaking of Bush’s strategy, noting that democracy is only likely to produce even-more vehement anti-American regimes.

They miss the point entirely. We, too, understand the sickness. We, too, realize that it will be decades before it recedes. But in the meantime, freer and more democratic Islamic states will open up more domestic opportunity, even if they don’t produce governments that agree with us on many points.

Turkey is the new Middle East’s future. We are likely to be hated for some time to come. But we are hated in Spain and France as well. The hatred, by itself, the opposition to U.S. policies, by itself, is only of minimal import.

A nascent fascism has taken root in the Muslim world. There is no escaping the hate, the anger, the all-important grievances. But what we can escape is the full consequence of that hatred. By opening up a democratic space in the Middle East, we allow other, competing interests—like the interest of bettering one’s lives, of one’s children having a better life—to fight it out with the Grievance Party. By creating a context for the natural give-and-take of democratic politics we increase the likelihood that the hatred will be deflected and minimized until it recedes.
(emphasis mine)

And this is the point. Changing the culture of Islam, and bringing democracy to an area flooded with authoritanism and paternalism will not make everything better instantly. But it is in our interest in the long-term to begin the process of change in that cauldron of anger, resentment and oppression known as the Middle East. Those who cannot or will not look at the big picture and like babies, cry and demand that everything be what they want it to be in a magical instant; those who whine that women don't have instant rights in Iraq (like one of my commenters); or that people still (gasp) disagree and kill each other there; or even that America is still not universally loved and admired-- are missing the enormity of the change that has begun.

We have initiated a major paradigm shift. As I emphasized in the quote above, we have given people back their self-interest and the means to pursue their own happiness. And that is completely different from making them happy.

They will have to do that on their own.

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