Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Is Democracy the Answer?

In an exchange on National Review Online (April 17), Andrew McCarthy takes Mario Loyola to task for suggesting that the Bush Doctrine is about spreading democracy. “That is just nonsense,” writes McCarthy. “The Bush Doctrine, as announced in the days after 9/11 . . . holds that jihadists are our enemies and that regimes that support their terror have the choice of being with us or against us.” It is only “revisionists,” he argues, who claim that “the Bush Doctrine means terrorism will be defeated by spreading democracy.” And this is “preposterous” since there is “is no evidence—NONE—that adopting democracy means defeating terrorism.”

On the historical record, McCarthy is wrong in claiming that promoting democracy somehow slipped into Bush’s rhetoric only in his second inaugural address. It was clearly set out in Bush’s 2002 National Security Strategy (about which I wrote in COMMENTARY). But the important question is not the semantic one of whether promoting democracy deserves to be called part of the Bush Doctrine. It is whether it is a good idea for winning the war on terror.

McCarthy’s formula is inadequate. Yes, jihadists are our enemies. And, yes, we should pressure states to support us against them. But our old image of terrorism as something entirely dependent on state support is outdated.

Even more important than state sponsorship is the popular support that jihadism receives. Tens of thousands of young Muslims volunteer to be its warriors. Millions of Muslims support its activities. And even many non-supporters feel a certain understanding or sympathy for it. It is a monumentally important fact that the states of the Islamic Conference stand as a block against any blanket repudiation of terrorism. Their unswerving position is that terrorism is wrong—except if it is carried out for a good cause. Which means it is not wrong at all in principle.

What Bush recognized in repudiating 60 years of U.S. support for the Middle Eastern status quo is that we will not be safe from jihadism unless the mindset of the Middle East changes, and that we have to do whatever we can to try to precipitate such change. Jihadism is a movement that must be fought ideologically as well as militarily. As an enemy, the challenge it presents is more like that of Communism than that of Nazism.

McCarthy is right to say there is no proof that democracy will be the antidote to terrorism. But it is the best way we know to transform societies and the socialization that their citizens experience. What other strategies have been suggested? Just to declare that jihadism is our enemy is no strategy at all.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.