Democratic Peace Theory
In the recent years, there have been a lot of questions whether democracy can cause peace in the Middle East. To answer this, it is important to note that democracy has three ideal composites which include popular sovereignty, individual autonomy, and political equality. These components are illustrated in Abraham Lincoln’s definition of democracy. He stated that democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. In western democracy, it has always been seen as a type of government vested the supreme power by the citizens; the elected agents, therefore, were mandated to act as their representatives (Jung, 1994). With frequent violence and monarchy and dictatorship in many countries in the Middle East, many concerns have been raised as to whether democracy could be the solution to their predicament. Thus, during one of her statements Condoleezza Rice, the United States Secretary of State, claimed that democracy would bring peace to the Middle East. However, according to another prominent historian Professor Benny Morris, currently, this political regime would not guarantee peace in the Middle East. Bearing in mind the situation on this territory, one may find grains of truth in Morris’ claims.
In her article statement about the Middle East and Iraq in particular, the US Secretary of State puts more emphasis on democratizing the region. She also stresses on having the institutions that will ensure that all the systems are in place. Among such institutions must be a relevant body that will ensure a fair election and release of results. Additionally, to have a stable democracy she states that there is the need for inclusiveness and mutual understanding between all the parties involved from the loyalist to the previous regimes and the citizens. On the other hand, from Benny Morris’s article, it is clear that democracy in the Middle East countries is under attack. The historian, for instance, notes that the politicians are promoting series of laws that will curtail press freedom and interfere with the independence of the Supreme Court. He also mentions that the west and, specifically, Condoleezza Rice are wrong because the so called “The Arab Springs” will be nothing resembling democracy. It is, therefore, the proof that democracy in the Middle East will not ensure peace.
Currently, democratic peace is a theory that has elicited a lot of critics from various scholars, especially regarding its complex nature when it comes to the handling of foreign policy. The arguments include the fact that in the society with democratic regime, it is unlikely for the governments to fight one another because they are self-governing.
The democracy-peace dependency seems multifaceted due to the issue of legitimacy. For instance, as Robert Dorff states, there is a relationship between instability in the world and illegitimate governance (Dorff, 2005). Non-democracies deal with the issue of government legitimacy in a different way. In the long run, the majority of the non-democratic states will lose their legitimacy due to the failures to show respect to human life by encouraging peace. On the other hand, although there is evidence indicating that democratic government may at time contribute to a peaceful system, it all depends on the available structures aimed at ensuring that the democratic systems are protected.
One of the main reasons to prove Benny Morris’s arguments is that without the necessary effective institutions such as the human right agencies, the purpose of politicians in a “democratic” government is always to get into power and accumulate as much wealth as they can at the expense of their country. As Benny states, wealth grabbing has been mainly the case in the oil-rich Middle East countries. Consequently, such leaders resort to the use of protests and strikes as a means of attaining publicity. Of course, in French and American Revolution, these protests led to the establishment of democracies, but in the Middle East and many other nations, behind these strikes there has been hidden political interest (Bellin, 2004). Therefore, for peace to be attained countries in the Middle East need a strong dictator who will consider the citizens’ needs and will not only be driven by personal desires to become rich at the expense of the lingering poverty.
Another reason to support Benny Morris’s claims is because the masses are often deceived due to their ignorance. Though democracy means anyone can seek position and be elected to rule, in many Middle East countries such as Saudi Arabia, dynasties are in power. Grandparents and grandchildren are the only ones who lead; thus, it is an indication that democracy in these countries is under threat. In the Middle East, the family dynasties possess the most of the wealth and constitute the party with all the other parties expected to work for them. In such a case, the idea of democracy has been destroyed. With such exploitive regimes that have little consideration for human life, what follows is selfish and incapable people take power into their hands. Consequently, in these countries democracy is just an imagination or a possible wish (Kaplan, 2001).
As Benny Morris points out, the Middle East is mostly Islam. It means the people there obey the Sharia law. However, the democratic government, as described by Condoleezza, is characterized by the fact that people have a direct influence on matters that are likely to affect their welfare. This means that the present situation in the Middle East and some countries in Africa mainly favors autocratic leadership whereby a single person can simply order the government to do something in an event of any problem, and it will be solved.
One of the major disadvantages of democracy is that it is slow when it comes to response to important issues. Additionally, because decision making is long, its actual implementation also takes some time. Majority voting is required for the execution of the decision. With the rate of crime and corruptions in some countries in the Middle East, such slow procedures are likely to result in conflicts or violence; hence, it would be true to state that democracy here is less likely to cause peace.
Lastly, another reason to show that deep democracy in the Middle East will not guarantee peace, as Condoleezza Rice suggests, is that the only practiced religion in many countries on this territory is Islam. It makes it even more difficult to have democracy in motion. As it is known, Islam in its purest form is not simply a religion, but also a set of rules which every citizen ought to follow (Gopin, 2002). Additionally, Islamic teachings have been known for offering a specific set of laws that the doctrine expects to be enforced on the people. Furthermore, unlike in Christianity where the rules can be interpreted or modified, in Islam the same is not allowed, and any attempt to do so is mostly considered blasphemous and wrong. This religious belief undermines the formation of democracy because the Sharia law gives no room for any opposing viewpoint as is usually the case with democracy (Gause, 2005). The above-mentioned points are called to confirm Benny Morris’s claims that currently, many countries in the Middle East might not be ready for democracy because in reality it will not bring peaceful life there.
In conclusion, one must admit that there are some elements of truth in Benny Morris’s claims. The challenges to democracy in the Middle East such as lack of the institutions, corruption, slow decision making, the impact of the Sharia law among others greatly undermine the effectiveness of this political regime. Though the Unites States Secretary of Defense shows optimism in assuming that democracy can be the solution to the current predicaments that the Middle East faces, some of the above challenges will hinder democracy. Besides, with the situation at hand, before taking the course all system should be in place for peace to be attained in the Middle East.