Deriding support for democracy is counterproductive


It has become fashionable in some circles to pooh-pooh support for democracy, but Tunisia provides the Arab Spring’s “one encouraging success story”, even if its success is fragile, its economy is weak and terrorist attacks threaten confidence in the government, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin writes:

Imagine how demoralizing it would be to those resisting the siren call of extremism and authoritarianism if a U.S. president fawns over dictators, praises strongmen and propagates the idea that tyrants are the only backstop to chaos. Tunisia could use encouragement, support and integration into the global economy; at the very least, we should eschew praise for anti-democratic leaders who offer the false hope of stability.

“The Tunisian experience is a successful model of peaceful democratic transition and a rampart against extremist organizations,” said William Joseph Burns [a board member of the National Endowment for Democracy​], who recently visited Tunisia, leading a delegation of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Likewise, in Morocco, where a reform process — albeit slow and uneven — backed by the king has been underway for years, an Islamist party has made steady electoral progress, the Post’s Rubin adds:

Nevertheless, pro-democracy forces, including nongovernmental organizations such as the National Human Rights Council, wage struggles to promote the rule of law, women’s rights and government reform. The Obama administration …..has recognized “the growing role of the National Council on Human Rights (CNDH) as a credible and proactive defender of human rights, and are encouraged by the Council of Government’s decision to strengthen the CNDH by ensuring that government agencies address complaints directed to it.” Driss El Yazami, the chair of the council, explained, “Moroccan society has showed a real capacity to maintain political pluralism.”

“This is the sort of democratic progress we should be encouraging to take place in other Muslim countries since it offers the only real hope for stability and an alternate to the Hobson’s choice between tyranny and Islamist chaos,” Rubin adds. “If we want more allies and support in battling extremism, we should be supporting democratic reform efforts.”

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