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Democracy and the Middle East

EndarkenedRationalist
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10/8/2015 4:57:31 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
In light of all the threads about the Middle East, I figured it was time to add my two cents. I expect this to be a long post, and I hope to see a fruitful and enlightening discussion grow out of it. Some of what I write here may be controversial, but it shouldn't be. In fact, I think most people will agree with my core assertion, which is:

The Middle East, as a whole, is not ready for democracy.

Why do I say this? Well, at the risk of sounding arrogant, because it's true. Most political scientists agree on ten conditions that are both necessary and sufficient for democracy. Before I name these conditions, I must include a caveat. Democracies can exist without all 10 conditions in place, and even having all 10 conditions does not guarantee democracy.

1: The elites must be committed to democracy.

On the surface, this is a rare occurrence. After all, in most authoritarian regimes, don't the elites benefit the most, at the expense of the common people? Well, yes and no. Consider the Ancien Regime in France. Once the monarchy began stripping noblemen of previous advantages they had held (such as being exempt from basically every tax in existence), they turned against the established order. A series of other complications happened, but this post is about the Middle East, not monarchic France. In the Middle East, support for democracy is low among the elites (see 4 and 10). Saudi Arabia benefits from its favored relationship with the West. Many of the dictators in countries like Egypt and Libya refused to give up their power, leading to what we call Arab Spring. Though they are out of power now, the Middle East remains far from stable.

2. Support of the common people for democracy

This one is a little easier to track. After all, if the average person is suffering under autocratic rule, doesn't common sense say they would desire change? And perhaps they do desire it, but revolutions, especially successful ones, are rare for a reason. People will accept a large number of abuses out of fear of things becoming worse. A major reason many USSR satellite states were able to remain in power was because, before the Helsinki Accords, they could use the threat of Soviet intervention as a worst case scenario (sure, you're suffering now, but imagine if....). Democracy is desired in large parts of the Middle East. According to the 2012 Pew data:

84% of people in Lebanon, 71% in Turkey, 67% in Egypt, 63% in Tunisia, 61% in Jordan, and 42% in Pakistan desire a democratic form of government.

If substantial majorities in many countries desire democracy, why hasn't it come? Why are Turkey and Tunisia (and arguably Libya) the countries that saw the greatest successes in democratization from Arab Spring? Well...

3. National Unity

This one should be simple to understand. The Middle East is incredibly fractured. While many people may be united against something (like Israel and the United States), the religious divides among Muslims inhibit national unity. Most people know that much of the conflict stems from the divisive split between sects of Islam (elaborating would be a lengthy discussion and is beyond the scope of this thread). Suffice it to say that these are fundamental differences blocking national unity. And they are fundamental. Although most Middle Easteners desire democracy, they also desire Islam to play a large role in their societies. Some of these splits are sectarian. Again using Pew research data:

82% of Pakistinians believe laws should strictly follow the Quran. 15% believe laws should follow the values of Islam.
72% of Jordinians believe laws should strictly follow the Quran. 26% believe laws should follow the values of Islam.

Other countries' statistics are as follows.

Egypt: 60%, 32%
Tunisia: 23%, 64%
Turkey: 17%, 44%
Lebanon: 17%, 35%

4. National Wealth

This one, and the next, are the shakiest conditions for democracy. They are the only two that are unproven to be necessary or sufficient for but instead strongly correlate with democracy. That said, we know national wealth exists in the Middle East (oil), but most of that wealth is consolidated in the hands of the elite. This is actually a major reason why there isn't massive elite support for democracy. In many instances, the state is able to satisfy the elite classes with luxury and wealth. This in turn pushes the masses down even further. In Egypt, for example, youth unemployment rates were around 25% in 2011.

5. Private Enterprise

The second of the shakiest aspects for democracy, private enterprise is also easy to explain. There can't be a representative government if the government is the sole economic power. While some private enterprise exists in the Middle East, it is largely constrained by the government. Furthermore, the masses of poor and lavish elites are both largely removed from the workforce. Corruption is rampant, with money buying positions or favors. Private enterprise cannot be said to have any significant sway (generally) in the Middle East, though there are large-scale international efforts to change this.

6. A rising middle class

A middle class is a group that enjoys stability. Revolutions threaten what they have. Essentially, they have invested enough in the status quo to defend it. The extreme economic conditions in the Middle East have impaired the growth of a middle class. As of 2010, the World Bank estimated that less than 10% of the population in the Middle East could fall into the middle class (which the World Bank defines as "a household with a low probability of falling into poverty." (Not a great definition, but hey). The extreme poor, by way of contrast, made up almost 20% of the population.

7. Civil Society

This includes active citizens and a political culture suitable to democracy. While most Middle Easteners desire civil participation and competitive elections, democracy (minus Israel) has never really existed in the Middle East. Turkey and Tunisia are the closest things to a democratic government there (again, barring Israel), and they only became so recently. It takes time for a culture to acclimate itself to democracy, and when that time runs into economic hardships (as happened in the Weimar Republic and post-Soviet Russia), authoritarianism or autocracy suddenly become appealing. Many countries are torn between democracy and economy. For example, 58% of Turkey's citizens say democracy is more important than the economy, while in Jordan, that number is only 33%. While the US and other Western powers are trying to demonstrate a model democracy, they are largely unsuccessful, due to reasons we'll examine in the next point.

8. A favorable international environment

While the world (at least, the West) desires to see democracy grow in the Middle East, many people there are skeptical of the West at best. In democratic Tunisia - one of the most successful accounts in Arab Spring - only 3 in 10 people believe the U.S.' involvement was to their benefit. The number is similar among other groups. Only 37% of Egyptians and 42% of Lebanese believe the U.S. wants democracy in the Middle East. 12% of Turkish citizens believe that the U.S. desires democracy there.

And of course, all of these countries hold an unfavorable view of Israel, with not even 10% of the populace in any of the countries believing that Israel wants a democratic Middle East. To much of the Middle East, the international climate is unfavorable.

9. Education and free information

The Internet has made this largely accessible to many Middle Easterners (in fact, the Internet arguably was a major cause of Arab Spring). While education, especially for women, still remain cloudy in the Middle East, free information can be said to be growing.

Cont.
EndarkenedRationalist
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10/8/2015 5:05:47 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
10. State Institutions

State Institutions, a pillar for democracy, have a different function in the Middle East. They have largely been built and tethered to the various dictators in their repsective countries. This is another reason for low elite support for democracy. Power comes from loyalty to the dictators and their personalized rule, not the state itself. State institutions are utilized as a means to retain power, not change the system of governance.

Thus, when the dictators fell, many of the state institutions fell with them. Others were co-opted by the West or made to implement Islamic law. While Tunisia worked to relax restrictions on civil society and thus loosen the repressive-ness of state institutions, other countries like Egypt fell under the rule of the military and tightened them. State institutions have therefore done little to facilitate the growth of democracy.

To summarize, many of the conditions widely recognized as being both necessary and sufficient to the successful establishment of a democracy are missing in the Middle East. Namely, the missing factors include elite support, national unity, private enterprise, a growing middle class, a civil society, a favorable international environment (arguable, so we'll count it as half), education (but not free information, so again, half) and state institutions. In effect, 8 of the 10 conditions are absent in the Middle East.
EndarkenedRationalist
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10/8/2015 8:00:38 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/8/2015 7:55:14 PM, Greyparrot wrote:
This isn't a new concept. Even during the Bush years, forced democracy was never fully justified in the Middle East.

Of course not. None of these factors magically existed during the Bush years.

I put this up because so many people were discussing Western intervention in the Middle East in other threads.
tajshar2k
Posts: 2,376
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10/10/2015 12:25:52 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/8/2015 4:57:31 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

Other countries' statistics are as follows.

Egypt: 60%, 32%
Tunisia: 23%, 64%
Turkey: 17%, 44%
Lebanon: 17%, 35%

Not trying to say you are lying, but do you have sources for 84% of people in Lebanon, 71% in Turkey, 67% in Egypt, 63% in Tunisia, 61% in Jordan, and 42% in Pakistan desire a democratic form of government. "
"In Guns We Trust" Tajshar2k
EndarkenedRationalist
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10/10/2015 10:39:00 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/10/2015 12:25:52 AM, tajshar2k wrote:
At 10/8/2015 4:57:31 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:

Other countries' statistics are as follows.

Egypt: 60%, 32%
Tunisia: 23%, 64%
Turkey: 17%, 44%
Lebanon: 17%, 35%


Not trying to say you are lying, but do you have sources for 84% of people in Lebanon, 71% in Turkey, 67% in Egypt, 63% in Tunisia, 61% in Jordan, and 42% in Pakistan desire a democratic form of government. "

2012 Pew research data.
http://www.pewglobal.org...
Contra
Posts: 3,941
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10/13/2015 6:06:36 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/8/2015 7:47:26 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
Bumping this, not because I really care if people respond, but because there are at least two threads above this that shoudn't be.

Your post is very informative, and it's really interesting. Thank you very much for sharing it, I enjoyed learning about this perspective.

The argument regarding national unity is somewhat fuzzy for me, but otherwise the ideas seem to be accurate.
"The solution [for Republicans] is to admit that Bush was a bad president, stop this racist homophobic stuff, stop trying to give most of the tax cuts to the rich, propose a real alternative to Obamacare that actually works, and propose smart free market solutions to our economic problems." - Distraff

"Americans are better off in a dynamic, free-enterprise-based economy that fosters economic growth, opportunity and upward mobility." - Paul Ryan
EndarkenedRationalist
Posts: 14,201
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10/13/2015 10:47:03 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 6:06:36 PM, Contra wrote:
At 10/8/2015 7:47:26 PM, EndarkenedRationalist wrote:
Bumping this, not because I really care if people respond, but because there are at least two threads above this that shoudn't be.

Your post is very informative, and it's really interesting. Thank you very much for sharing it, I enjoyed learning about this perspective.

Thank you for saying that. It means a lot. :-)

The argument regarding national unity is somewhat fuzzy for me, but otherwise the ideas seem to be accurate.
lotsoffun
Posts: 1,599
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10/13/2015 11:03:59 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
No such thing in the middle east except maybe in Israel. Democracy is almost a fraud in so called Democratic countries. George Bush stole the American election over Al Gore. Gore got a bone thrown to him when he got to become a billionaire by selling the fraudulent idea of global warming by narrating a ridiculous documentary. If we can't have democracy in the U.S. then certainly not in the Arab world.
BrittanyR1911.45
Posts: 12
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10/13/2015 11:12:04 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 11:03:59 PM, lotsoffun wrote:
No such thing in the middle east except maybe in Israel. Democracy is almost a fraud in so called Democratic countries. George Bush stole the American election over Al Gore. Gore got a bone thrown to him when he got to become a billionaire by selling the fraudulent idea of global warming by narrating a ridiculous documentary. If we can't have democracy in the U.S. then certainly not in the Arab world.

The US is a Constitutional Republic.

What bush did was questionable, sure. But we dodged the Al Gore bullet. It's been happening. The system is corrupt on both sides...Bill Clinton used Ross Perot to swing that election.
lotsoffun
Posts: 1,599
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10/13/2015 11:22:46 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 11:12:04 PM, BrittanyR1911.45 wrote:
At 10/13/2015 11:03:59 PM, lotsoffun wrote:
No such thing in the middle east except maybe in Israel. Democracy is almost a fraud in so called Democratic countries. George Bush stole the American election over Al Gore. Gore got a bone thrown to him when he got to become a billionaire by selling the fraudulent idea of global warming by narrating a ridiculous documentary. If we can't have democracy in the U.S. then certainly not in the Arab world.

The US is a Constitutional Republic.

What bush did was questionable, sure. But we dodged the Al Gore bullet. It's been happening. The system is corrupt on both sides...Bill Clinton used Ross Perot to swing that election

I'm not American so I only follow its politics in a general way. Democracy has been under attack for decades. The Bush years accelerated the process. Look at 911. It was used as an excuse for curtailing the rights of Americans and its allies followed suit. It's been getting worse ever since. The UN's Agenda 21 is the nail in the coffin. It will take everything from us. Our liberty, our private property, our children, our wealth,our sanity. This is not a conspiracy theory. It's right on the UN's website. It is the greatest danger to freedom, much worse than so called terrorism. Check it out.
BrittanyR1911.45
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10/16/2015 1:53:48 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/13/2015 11:22:46 PM, lotsoffun wrote:
At 10/13/2015 11:12:04 PM, BrittanyR1911.45 wrote:
At 10/13/2015 11:03:59 PM, lotsoffun wrote:
No such thing in the middle east except maybe in Israel. Democracy is almost a fraud in so called Democratic countries. George Bush stole the American election over Al Gore. Gore got a bone thrown to him when he got to become a billionaire by selling the fraudulent idea of global warming by narrating a ridiculous documentary. If we can't have democracy in the U.S. then certainly not in the Arab world.

The US is a Constitutional Republic.

What bush did was questionable, sure. But we dodged the Al Gore bullet. It's been happening. The system is corrupt on both sides...Bill Clinton used Ross Perot to swing that election

I'm not American so I only follow its politics in a general way. Democracy has been under attack for decades. The Bush years accelerated the process. Look at 911. It was used as an excuse for curtailing the rights of Americans and its allies followed suit. It's been getting worse ever since. The UN's Agenda 21 is the nail in the coffin. It will take everything from us. Our liberty, our private property, our children, our wealth,our sanity. This is not a conspiracy theory. It's right on the UN's website. It is the greatest danger to freedom, much worse than so called terrorism. Check it out.

Oh yeah I'm familiar with agenda 21. Pretty frightening stuff. Bill gates is a huge supporter. I'm not a big fan of the UN. In general it's a good idea, but over time it's become too powerful.
lotsoffun
Posts: 1,599
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10/17/2015 1:08:55 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/16/2015 1:53:48 AM, BrittanyR1911.45 wrote:
At 10/13/2015 11:22:46 PM, lotsoffun wrote:
At 10/13/2015 11:12:04 PM, BrittanyR1911.45 wrote:
At 10/13/2015 11:03:59 PM, lotsoffun wrote:
No such thing in the middle east except maybe in Israel. Democracy is almost a fraud in so called Democratic countries. George Bush stole the American election over Al Gore. Gore got a bone thrown to him when he got to become a billionaire by selling the fraudulent idea of global warming by narrating a ridiculous documentary. If we can't have democracy in the U.S. then certainly not in the Arab world.

The US is a Constitutional Republic.

What bush did was questionable, sure. But we dodged the Al Gore bullet. It's been happening. The system is corrupt on both sides...Bill Clinton used Ross Perot to swing that election

I'm not American so I only follow its politics in a general way. Democracy has been under attack for decades. The Bush years accelerated the process. Look at 911. It was used as an excuse for curtailing the rights of Americans and its allies followed suit. It's been getting worse ever since. The UN's Agenda 21 is the nail in the coffin. It will take everything from us. Our liberty, our private property, our children, our wealth,our sanity. This is not a conspiracy theory. It's right on the UN's website. It is the greatest danger to freedom, much worse than so called terrorism. Check it out.

Oh yeah I'm familiar with agenda 21. Pretty frightening stuff. Bill gates is a huge supporter. I'm not a big fan of the UN. In general it's a good idea, but over time it's become too powerful.

They try to sneak it in at the local level and are trying to indoctrinate a whole generation. In the province of Ontario, the government has gone on a mad green energy spree. where they have subsidized expensive and unreliable wind energy even though the province has plenty of inexpensive hydro electricity and nuclear energy. People have become energy poor because of this corrupt foolish government. Businesses are leaving the Province for places with cheaper energy.The subsidies go to their friends and the wind energy has to be purchased first. They've now built thousands of these things and made laws so that communities can't say no to them even though people are getting very sick and many are forced out of their homes. It is also a blight on the landscape. Sustainability is Agenda 21's buzz word. This probably says it all. In the UN's documents it actually states that tilling the soil is an unsustainable action. They want us off the land and huddled into cities, taking public transport instead of driving cars and essentially obeying our elite masters. I really hope the world wakes up to these monsters and their devious plans for us.
ford_prefect
Posts: 4,137
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10/17/2015 1:31:41 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
Democracy is generally overrated. That being said, many countries in the Middle East currently do not want it and would not immediately benefit from it.
ben2974
Posts: 767
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10/17/2015 1:42:32 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/17/2015 1:08:55 AM, lotsoffun wrote:
At 10/16/2015 1:53:48 AM, BrittanyR1911.45 wrote:
At 10/13/2015 11:22:46 PM, lotsoffun wrote:
At 10/13/2015 11:12:04 PM, BrittanyR1911.45 wrote:
At 10/13/2015 11:03:59 PM, lotsoffun wrote:
No such thing in the middle east except maybe in Israel. Democracy is almost a fraud in so called Democratic countries. George Bush stole the American election over Al Gore. Gore got a bone thrown to him when he got to become a billionaire by selling the fraudulent idea of global warming by narrating a ridiculous documentary. If we can't have democracy in the U.S. then certainly not in the Arab world.

The US is a Constitutional Republic.

What bush did was questionable, sure. But we dodged the Al Gore bullet. It's been happening. The system is corrupt on both sides...Bill Clinton used Ross Perot to swing that election

I'm not American so I only follow its politics in a general way. Democracy has been under attack for decades. The Bush years accelerated the process. Look at 911. It was used as an excuse for curtailing the rights of Americans and its allies followed suit. It's been getting worse ever since. The UN's Agenda 21 is the nail in the coffin. It will take everything from us. Our liberty, our private property, our children, our wealth,our sanity. This is not a conspiracy theory. It's right on the UN's website. It is the greatest danger to freedom, much worse than so called terrorism. Check it out.

Oh yeah I'm familiar with agenda 21. Pretty frightening stuff. Bill gates is a huge supporter. I'm not a big fan of the UN. In general it's a good idea, but over time it's become too powerful.

They try to sneak it in at the local level and are trying to indoctrinate a whole generation. In the province of Ontario, the government has gone on a mad green energy spree. where they have subsidized expensive and unreliable wind energy even though the province has plenty of inexpensive hydro electricity and nuclear energy. People have become energy poor because of this corrupt foolish government. Businesses are leaving the Province for places with cheaper energy.The subsidies go to their friends and the wind energy has to be purchased first. They've now built thousands of these things and made laws so that communities can't say no to them even though people are getting very sick and many are forced out of their homes. It is also a blight on the landscape. Sustainability is Agenda 21's buzz word. This probably says it all. In the UN's documents it actually states that tilling the soil is an unsustainable action. They want us off the land and huddled into cities, taking public transport instead of driving cars and essentially obeying our elite masters. I really hope the world wakes up to these monsters and their devious plans for us.

A quick wiki look-up and this "agenda" looks to be a clean/green energy endeavor. Do you think global warming science is invalid? Or do you simply think the way we (the UN) approach man-made global warming is wrong?
lotsoffun
Posts: 1,599
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10/17/2015 2:53:30 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/17/2015 1:42:32 AM, ben2974 wrote:
At 10/17/2015 1:08:55 AM, lotsoffun wrote:
At 10/16/2015 1:53:48 AM, BrittanyR1911.45 wrote:
At 10/13/2015 11:22:46 PM, lotsoffun wrote:
At 10/13/2015 11:12:04 PM, BrittanyR1911.45 wrote:
At 10/13/2015 11:03:59 PM, lotsoffun wrote:
No such thing in the middle east except maybe in Israel. Democracy is almost a fraud in so called Democratic countries. George Bush stole the American election over Al Gore. Gore got a bone thrown to him when he got to become a billionaire by selling the fraudulent idea of global warming by narrating a ridiculous documentary. If we can't have democracy in the U.S. then certainly not in the Arab world.

The US is a Constitutional Republic.

What bush did was questionable, sure. But we dodged the Al Gore bullet. It's been happening. The system is corrupt on both sides...Bill Clinton used Ross Perot to swing that election

I'm not American so I only follow its politics in a general way. Democracy has been under attack for decades. The Bush years accelerated the process. Look at 911. It was used as an excuse for curtailing the rights of Americans and its allies followed suit. It's been getting worse ever since. The UN's Agenda 21 is the nail in the coffin. It will take everything from us. Our liberty, our private property, our children, our wealth,our sanity. This is not a conspiracy theory. It's right on the UN's website. It is the greatest danger to freedom, much worse than so called terrorism. Check it out.

Oh yeah I'm familiar with agenda 21. Pretty frightening stuff. Bill gates is a huge supporter. I'm not a big fan of the UN. In general it's a good idea, but over time it's become too powerful.

They try to sneak it in at the local level and are trying to indoctrinate a whole generation. In the province of Ontario, the government has gone on a mad green energy spree. where they have subsidized expensive and unreliable wind energy even though the province has plenty of inexpensive hydro electricity and nuclear energy. People have become energy poor because of this corrupt foolish government. Businesses are leaving the Province for places with cheaper energy.The subsidies go to their friends and the wind energy has to be purchased first. They've now built thousands of these things and made laws so that communities can't say no to them even though people are getting very sick and many are forced out of their homes. It is also a blight on the landscape. Sustainability is Agenda 21's buzz word. This probably says it all. In the UN's documents it actually states that tilling the soil is an unsustainable action. They want us off the land and huddled into cities, taking public transport instead of driving cars and essentially obeying our elite masters. I really hope the world wakes up to these monsters and their devious plans for us.

A quick wiki look-up and this "agenda" looks to be a clean/green energy endeavor. Do you think global warming science is invalid? Or do you simply think the way we (the UN) approach man-made global warming is wrong?

I think global warming, if it is really happening (some say it is and others say no) is a natural occurrence, I look at people like Al Gore and David Suzuki and see hypocrites. They run around preaching to people about how they should cut back on everything but these clowns have massive carbon footprints. This is an elitist attitude. they understand how to manipulate weak uncaring minds and cultivate useful idiots in government and academia. I hear preaching about carbon taxes, which are only a measure to destroy the middle class, which determines the wealth of a nation. This all seemed to come about after Al Gore's warranted video"An Inconvenient Truth" which has been debunked. There are many many climatologists and scientists who refute this nonsense. Yes, the UN is going about this the wrong way-for the sane world, but not for them. Agenda 21 is the platform for one world global government. It is a policy that standardizes everything, world wide, takes away national sovereignty and steals individual freedom. There are wonderful books written about this. Look them up. This is real and anyone can find it on the UN website. Yes, the approach to global warming is nonsense. It is an excuse to tax and implement Agenda 21, where humanity is the enemy of the planet, a virus to be exterminated, at least down to a number that is controllable and manageable for the elite. The elite conspiracy is real. Agenda 21 is proof.