Must Free Elections Bring Violence?
ANDREA SEABROOK, Host:
From the Palestinian crisis to Iraq and Afghanistan, our senior news analyst Daniel Schorr sees a worrisome pattern.
DANIEL SCHORR: Consider what President Bush said in his State of the Union Address last year.
GEORGE W: Elections are vital, but they're only the beginning. Raising up a democracy requires the rule of law, protection of minorities, and strong accountable institutions that last longer than a single vote.
SCHORR: This was one of the many times the president has equated the ballot with leading the way to peaceful development. But the export of democracy tenet of the Bush doctrine has been steadily going down the drain. In almost every country in the Middle East, elections have brought no peace, but sometimes intensified violence. That goes for Iraq, which held a heavily guarded election in December 2005, and the same for Afghanistan and Lebanon.
In Pakistan, where opposition to the Musharraf military regime is rising, the Bush administration is not pushing for elections. Gaza presents an example of the trouble with democracy in this Middle East cauldron. The Islamic Hamas triumphed over the Western-backed secular Fatah and now has taken Gaza into its own hands.
In Lebanon, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah made inroads in an election in 2005, and that was followed by last summer's war with Israel. Indications are that promoting elections will no longer play such an important part in future American policy. In the current issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney provide a glimpse into America's next foreign policy. Senator Obama denounces forcibly imposed regime change, and he promises to help build accountable institutions. But in this very long article, there is no discussion of elections in these countries.
Like Obama, Romney makes clear that the United States should not be forcibly involved in promoting elections. And he says, the world that too many of our current capabilities and alliances were created to address no longer exists. And so, when Mr. Bush hails an election, that may be yesterday's story. The story now is, after the election, now what?
This is Daniel Schorr.
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