Friday, March 04, 2005

Middle East Democracy

Sorry fans, I have not been exploring wider issues in our region. Possibly because I'm not a full-on political analyst, I only know what I think. Possibly because I was afraid of any repercussions, but I know hardly anyone reads this blog. Possibly I'm too lazy.

Anyhoo, prompted by a couple of things, I think it's about time I added my twopenn'orth*.

The first thing was a little article on democracy on small cavy's blog... the second was a very thought-provoking article in today's Gulf News. I reckon if it's OK for Gulf News to print it then it's OK for me to blog about it.

In my opinion, democracy is not that great. It has many notable features, but it can end up as a total compromise if you have a really big electorate (look at India). But when democracy can put a disingenuous evil-minded git like Dubya in charge of the world (twice!), then it ain't working. The idea of democracy and universal suffrage is superb, and the idea of 'Government by the people, for the people' is just sublime. We say to our 'rulers', 'we put you in charge, on our behalf. But never forget it. You are our representatives, not our bosses.' And when we get fed up of them we impeach them or we elect a replacement set.

That idea seems to have had its day or the so-called rulers in the West have forgotten it. Now the US has the disgusting Patriot Act, and the UK 'government' are trying to enact something very similar. Forgive me, but any law that allows detaining people (any people, no matter how long and straggly their beard may be) indefinitely without trial or even any charges being laid is wrong, wrong, wrong.

George Bush has been harping on about bringing 'democracy' to the Middle East. I laughed out loud when I first heard this idea. Bear in mind, it took hundreds of years for a form of democracy and eventually universal suffrage to become established in the minds and hearts of voters in Europe and North America. The notion that you think you can just transplant this to places like Afghanistan or Iraq is laughable.

But it will be interesting to see if, when and to what extent a little bit of voting will be allowed here in the UAE. Apparently the Constitution already allows for the election of members of the Federal National Council - the only problem right now is the severely restricted number of voters.

*= 'two penny worth', auld English idiom meaning 'my worthless contribution'.