To paraphrase Churchill: Democracy is dangerous. But it?s less dangerous than all the other political systems out there.
Democracy is dangerous because it puts power in the hands of the people, so terrorists will attempt to use it against us by swaying public opinion. They?re doing that in Iraq.
On Oct. 19, terrorists kidnapped Margaret Hassan, the director of CARE International in Baghdad. They later released a tape of her begging for her life. The tape was carried, of course, on al Jazeera, the terrorist?s mouthpiece network.
?Please help me, please help me, these might be my last hours,? Hassan begged. ?Please British people ask Mr. Blair to pull the troops from Iraq and not bring them to Baghdad. Please, please I beg of you, the British people, to help me. I don?t want to die like [Kenneth] Bigley. I beg of you, I beg of you.?
The tape is a good illustration of how changeable the terrorist?s demands are and why we can?t negotiate with them. It wasn?t until two days after Hassan was captured that the British government announced it would shift some troops to Baghdad. She wasn?t seized so the terrorists could protest troop movements -- that?s simply another grievance tacked on by the terrorists after they?d already kidnapped her.
Hassan also mentioned Kenneth Bigley, another British citizen abducted and used by the terrorists. He was beheaded in October because the British government wouldn?t negotiate with his captors. Obviously, the killers are going to keep trying to use violence to bend Britain?s democracy to their will. After it became clear the British wouldn?t meet their demands, the terrorists executed Hassan on Nov. 16.
But here?s where democracy is dangerous for the terrorists. At the same time they want to use it against the West, democracy would spell defeat for them. That?s why they?re doing everything possible to defeat democracy and freedom on the ground in Iraq.
An especially audacious attack came on Oct. 23, when terrorists killed some 49 newly trained Iraqi National Guard recruits. The unarmed guardsmen were shot execution-style. Many were found with their arms tied behind their backs. Clearly the terrorists realize that, once Iraq is a functioning democracy, they?ll be out of business. So they?re doing everything possible to disrupt the process through kidnappings and killings.
Unfortunately, that?s not how some on the street see things. In The Washington Post, an Iraqi citizen named Salman Mohammed blamed others for the attack. ?I think that there are foreign countries that want to destroy these forces. I think the Zionists are behind that. They want to make this country collapse . . . to extend their state from the Nile to the Euphrates.?
But in fact, the ?Zionists? he refers to are part of a functioning democracy. Israel is the only one in the Middle East. And its democracy is what makes it such a strong country.
On Oct. 26, Israel?s parliament voted to close the country?s settlements in the disputed Gaza Strip and withdraw troops, leaving the entire stretch of land in the hands of 1.3 million Palestinians. This decision was difficult; some settlers would rather fight than move. But that?s how things are done in democracies -- the government is run by the people, for the people, and decisions are made by majority rule with the consent of the governed.
Further north, Lebanon is trying to accomplish the same thing. For years, it?s been unofficially occupied by Syria, a country that deserves inclusion in the ?Axis of Evil.? But some are getting fed up with that de facto domination.
?I want Lebanon to be democratic, not only by respecting free speech, human rights and elections, but also respecting international law and acting as part of the international community,? former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri said as he resigned Oct. 20. Hariri says he won?t participate in forming another government under President Emile Lahoud, whose term was recently extended under pressure from Syria.
Lebanon has a round of elections coming up next spring, and Syrian dictator Basher Assad was reportedly nervous that Lahoud might lose power. But Assad might have overreached -- his move might break the Syrian grip on Lebanon rather than maintain it.
The United Nations Security Council has already passed Resolution 1559, demanding Syria pull its troops out of Lebanon, allow an unhindered presidential election and stop interfering in Lebanese politics. The measure was co-sponsored by the United States and France. So much for our supposed ?going it alone? foreign policy. It?ll be interesting to see if Syria?s dictator will allow the spread of democracy to the very doorstep of his country.
No matter how aggressive the murderous terrorists are in coming months, they?re acting up because they realize their time is limited. Freedom is on the march. Afghanistan just held successful elections. Iraqis will vote in January. In the end, democracy -- the will of the people -- will prove especially dangerous to those who wish to rule by decree or establish a new caliphate.