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Democracy is not always the answer

When I hear pompous politicians like Obama, Cameron and their predecessors state that it's their duty to encourage nations to adopt democracy (by bombing them into having it), I feel a serious gromble needs to be expressed. It was Churchill who said “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” and then there's Thomas Jefferson who said “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.

'Great' democracies like the UK, the USA and the world's largest, India, believe their system of government and periodic accountability at elections, work - because they exist. Ergo they work. But democracy means something rather more basic. Democracy is a voting system whereby minorities accept the decision of the majority about who governs them. Minorities in working democracies therefore do not feel sufficiently passionate about their differences with their new government to revolt. They roll over and accept that this time they didn't win. Maybe next time they'll campaign harder and persuade more people about their point of view.

But what happens where minorities feel oppressed. Where they feel they, or their family's lives are somehow compromised or maybe in peril. Perhaps they feel their god has been threatened - clearly a big deal for many of extreme faith. Democracy therefore cannot work, at least not effectively and calmly, where minorities do not accept the democratic process, or at least the results of the process (fair or otherwise) which returns 'the wrong government'.

So why do some democracies work, and others simply can't?

Simple. In the USA they killed the Indians and other minorities who wouldn't accept the rule of the majority. In India they killed or expelled the muslims. In the UK they suppressed all opposition to the sovereigns parliament. In Germany they murdered millions deemed to be a threat to the values of the majority. In Australia they killed Aborigines.... etc.

The only reason democracies survived was because all potential dissent to the process was ruthlessly exterminated.

So why on earth do we believe that implementing democratic processes in tribal war zones like Libya (32 tribes), Iraq (Kurds v Sunnis v Shiite) and Afghanistan (Mujahadin + Taliban + drug warlords + umpteen tribes like Pashtuns) can possibly result in scenarios where minorities accept the decision of their mortal enemies about the laws they are going to have to abide by for the next 5 years or so.

So what's the alternative? How do you get minorities to accept the will of the majority? Force and fear. Force and fear. It's the only language enraged people understand. And when it's their god that's threatened, even force and fear are barely sufficient to prevent daggers from being drawn to protect honour and salvation. So what sort of leadership works in that scenario? It would be great to believe a Gandhi could be flown in? Sadly not. Angelic Gandhi presided over vast ethnic cleansing of tens of millions of people at the appalling partition into two democracies. A Christ? Sadly he wouldn't (didn't) last long. Too nice. Too weak. Unfortunately its tough leaders like Gadaffi and Sadam who keep the peace. They knew how to prevent anarchy (until we bombed them both and killed countless of their citizens in order to impose far less effective ways of quelling violence between their hate-filled tribes).

Mark my words. Democracy will NOT work in Iraq. It will NOT work in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan or any other country where national borders encircle minorities who will never accede to the will of their mortal enemies. Let nature take its course and only step in if you KNOW that genocide is about to be committed (Rwanda, Cambodia, Liberia, Bosnia). Then hold elections if you must or simply give the crown to the nearest general, and quickly go home. It's going to get ugly again.


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