Thursday, 1 October 2009

Democracy - an export product?

Being a regular reader of Newsweek, I remember quite well those days and weeks right after the invasion of Iraq. Democracy will finally brought to the Middle East, I was reading. There was one argument brought up again and again. "We brought democracy to Germany after the war and it worked so well. Why shouldn't it be the same in Iraq".

Holy innocence. These journalists, professional line scribblers, just don't know what they are talking about. Could be, too, that they were simply repeating what they gathered "from well informed sources".

Six years later nothing has come out of those noble efforts but democracy is still very much on the official agenda.

Bringing democracy to a country like Afghanistan or Iraq is like trying to teach step dance to a paralytic in a one-week-crash-course. I don't wish to say this is bound to fail. No! It is downright crazy.

Democracy is a frail plant, it needs constant care from everybody and its main ingredient is the rule of law. And the rule of law is only possible if the vast majority of the people concerned is honest and law abiding and not only when a police officer is breathing down their neck.

When the US forces took Baghdad in 2003, for several weeks or months there was no authority in the town. Saddam's forces of evil were disbanded and the Americans did not care and did not bother. They only guarded the Oil Ministry (and the oil fields in the country side, sure). And what happened? Hell broke loose, thousands of citizen started to loot and steal wherever possible. Any object not solidly embedded in concrete, museums, shops, administrations were looted and gutted. With people like this democracy is impossible. They need a benevolent dictatorship and naturally, that's what they get and deserve.

Next stop Afghanistan. There is the saying that the quality and the seriousness of a democracy is not shown during voting but during counting.

Afghanistan is not really a country or a nation. It is a big tribal area called Afghanistan and its people are dedicated poppy growers. The smallest entity is the family and at its head is the husband. Women and children are kind of property and if they know their place and behave accordingly everything goes well like in all families. If the family gets desperately poor - as is happening now - the master sells a girl.

Next comes the tribal chief. This guy is something like God's representative on earth, he alone gives security and rule of law, the tribal law meaning Muslim Sharia, the religious law. You don't vote against the Chief. If the Chief decides for superior reasons that he opts for socialism, conservatism, liberalism or any other -ism for money or power, the tribe votes along those lines. And in case the Chief has a new inspiration and switches - for superior reasons - from one ism to another ism, or from friend to foe, the tribal members change, too. That is their duty and their honor.

So, in a nutshell, let's keep democracy at home. Let's improve it here because we are far from perfect, everybody knows that. We should always be ready to give advice and a lend a helping hand like training specialists, opening our universities, activities like that. But, please, no more voting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia or elsewhere, sponsored by Western nations and paid by its tax payers.