Sunday, February 27, 2005

Dov Zakheim was a Defense Department official in several Republican administrations. He got in trouble with AIPAC in the Reagan administration when he vetoed the American funding of an Israeli fighter jet (the Levi). Here, he offers a candid American fear of democracy in the Middle East, and a warning to neo-conservatives. He said: "I support the idea of democracy, but we have to be cautious about it. This is not the first time Iraq has had an election. We shouldn't view the future with rose-colored glasses." In an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times (thanks Fadi for the link), he elaborates: "Iraq is not the only Middle Eastern state to have conducted experiments in democracy only to see them fail. Iran had a short-lived progressive constitution and parliament in the first decade of the 20th century. Lebanon's democratic experience lasted longer, about 30 years, before it collapsed in civil war in the mid-1970s....Arab democracies may be hostile to the United States. Elections in the Middle East could yield Islamist leaderships as they nearly did in Algeria. For many religious Muslims, U.S. society represents values they truly abhor, no matter how many sodas they drink, no matter if they like to wear jeans or baseball caps...We must be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that it is not merely democracies that we encourage, but friendly democracies." I should mention that his analysis on Islam and democracy is outright prejudicial and ignorant.