Dangerous Democracy

We all know democracy is a wonderful thing -- worth fighting for and worth dying for -- but it is a rather dangerous thing as well. Let us consider what it has recently produced -- and what it might produce in the future.

There's Hamas for instance, in the Palestinian territories. Bad enough when they just blew people up. Now they are not just a party that believes in the destruction of Israel, they have a democratic mandate for that policy.

America and Europe could retaliate by cutting aid, but would that make the Palestinians any more fond of the West? I doubt it.

Truth is they have exercised their democratic will -- as we asked them to do -- and kicked out what they saw as a corrupt ruling party. And the question is -- should people be punished for voting for what they believe in?

Then there is of course the new President of Iran, Mr. Ahmadinejad. He also believes in the destruction of Israel, and the fear is that he would like a nuclear weapon to help in that process.

He was, of course, elected democratically. And you can't argue with democracy -- unless you happen to be a potential target for such a weapon.

Iraq is trying out democracy too. It is the great hope of both our countries that a stable government will emerge, with an army to guarantee its security so our long suffering troops can make their excuses and leave.

But if the various factions in Baghdad finally get together to form a government, they'll probably emerge with a leadership rather closer to that of Iran than we would want. We might not like it, but it may be the will of the Iraqi majority.

Voters are not always very wise or even sane. In 1932 and 1933 Adolf Hitler did rather well in German elections.

So what lesson can we draw from this curious habit of voters to act in an entirely unreasonable way?

I guess all we can do is accept it. After all, there are those who believe that the current leaders of both our countries are examples that democracy sometimes produces results that the rest of the world might find unhelpful.

And democracy does have one great redeeming factor. It gives us all the chance to change our mind.

Political leaders in Palestine, and Baghdad and Tehran might want to destroy Israel, but I don't think the people of those countries have that as a priority. They just want a decent quiet life like the rest of us.

So don't give up on democracy yet, and don't give up on these voters either. Give them both a second chance.

by Peter Allen

Comments