Democracy without liberty is just authority
By Frank Salvato
Benazir Bhutto's assassination is probably one of the most serious events that has happened since the attacks of September 11, 2001. She represented a move toward a Pakistan governed by political process and away from government by military rule. Truth be told, the only true stabilizing force in Pakistan is its military. It is for this reason that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was so reluctant to relinquish his military commission, a move he made in deference to his exclusively civilian role. To be sure, Bhutto was no angel but she was certainly a more attractive choice in an unattractive field.
We Americans have an extremely bad habit of looking at other nations and foreign cultures through a uniquely American understanding. We see a Pakistani military and comprehend it using the knowledge we have of our own military. We know our military to be separate from our political structure where it comes to government. We realize that the US military is extremely well disciplined and trained to a superior level. We have come to accept that when our armed forces are tasked with a mission – and when we are bright enough to keep politicians from interfering with that mission – the US military can be counted on to be successful 100% of the time. This, although a truth for the United States military, cannot be said for all militaries around the world.
In Pakistan the military is embedded into the governmental process. It has been this way ever since the country's creation in the independence of India from Britain. While there have been democratically elected leaders in Pakistan there have also been military coups. Pervez Musharraf was brought to power by military coup and has, since, tried to walk a fine line between military rule and political rule.
Existing simultaneously with this fragile rule is the fact that although the Pakistani military is well trained and seasoned, because it is a governmental component and prone to political ideology – especially in a country whose identity is based in the religious edict of Islam – there are factions existing within its ranks. While the generals and general command may very well be loyal to a civilian Musharraf, it cannot be guaranteed that the total of the mid-level officers are as loyal. When one mixes into the equation the fact that the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, leans more toward the ideology held by the Taliban than that of the West and that Pakistan is a nuclear capable country it is easy to see why we exist in some of the most dangerous times in human history.
This brings me to a critical point. Foreign policy experts and politicians from the West are making one of the biggest mistakes in the history of man by not recognizing that we are in error for promoting democracy to cultures where it is foreign.
Democracy has delivered to us Hezbollah as a legitimately elected entity in Lebanon and Hamas as a democratically elected and legitimate force in Gaza. Democracy made it possible for Vladimir Putin to bring a KGB mentality to a newly freed Russian people. Democracy has enabled the quasi-socialism of Hugo Chavez to erupt in South America.
Democracy is not the first step toward a free people, it is the last step.
The first step toward a free society is the incremental establishment of basic liberty. Let's face it; a benevolent king who bequeaths liberty to his kingdom's subjects is better than a democratically elected Hamas who keep their people living in squalor only to advance a totalitarian ideology on a region of the world.
By advancing the cause of liberty around the world instead of democracy, we provide people who have no experience with the personal responsibilities associated with maintaining a democracy the ability to cultivate an understanding of the value of freedom. Once a society embraces the responsibilities needed to maintain freedom, having formulated a firm understanding that it must be cherished and maintained through knowledgeable, thoughtful, educated and sometimes resolute engagement rather than by abdicating those responsibilities to political opportunists and totalitarian charlatans, the natural next step, the natural progression, is a thirst for self-rule; democracy.
Today, our rush to install democracy around the globe is affecting a very dangerous outcome; it is validating and legitimizing treacherously well-crafted totalitarian organizations in the form of fanatical and sometimes genocidal ideologues. Democracy is not spreading freedom in the Middle East; it is spreading authority, contrary to the ideals of liberty.
If the West is to win the global conflict against aggressive Islamofascism we must spread liberty, not democracy, around the world. We must advocate for liberty for all the peoples of earth, not democracy for the few who would be elected. The evils of human nature cannot be trusted with democracy without liberty.
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director and Director of Terrorism Research for Basics Project a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, Basics Project, partnered in producing the first ever national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel and is the host of the NMJ Radio show broadcast global on NetTalkWorld global talk radio and broadcast live on BlogTalk Radio. He is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, syndicated on over 25 stations nationally and on The Captain's America Radio Show catering to the US Armed Forces around the world, as well as an occasional guests on radio programs across the country. His opinion-editorials are syndicated nationally and he is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.