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|A Democracy Of Terror||10/02/2003|
In the aftermath of the actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, we heard continuous references to "establishing a democracy" in these countries. Throughout the conflicts in Congo and Liberia, we discussed "nation building" as a required follow-up to intervention. In North Korea and Iran, we yearn for an end to totalitarian regimes, hoping that the people will rise up and take control of a new, more benevolent society. But a true majority-rule system should never be our goal, neither in our own society nor in others.
In his most recent State of the Union address, President Bush laid out the "non-negotiable demands of human dignity." He included several crucial principles: "the rule of law; limits on the power of the state; respect for women; private property; free speech; equal justice; and religious tolerance."
Very few people (except, perhaps, the French) would argue against these values. So why would we seek to establish a democracy in a region in which the majority may not hold these beliefs?
Even in our own country, we have had to overcome the popular will of the people for the sake of absolute truth. We had to fight a war to abolish slavery. We had to amend the constitution to allow women to vote. Even today, individuals in our society continue to fight the majority of the population on various issues. But through a legislative republic, founded upon a Constitution, many wrongs have been made right, despite the will of the people.
When the United States embarked upon a campaign to remove Saddam Hussein, a majority of nations did not follow. Even now, some pundits and politicians appear ready to restore Saddam to power. But make no doubt about it, Iraq was this generation's Nazi Germany: a government oppressing its own people, murdering the opposition and burying them in mass graves, and lying to the world about its territorial ambitions and military might. It was necessary to remove Saddam not because it was popular, but because it was right.
Now we face somewhat of a vacuum in Iraq, a place where factions still threaten the lives of each other and the stability of the region. Should a majority be found on an issue, it is not guaranteed to be beneficial or just. It is not inconceivable that a majority of Shiites would suppress respect for women, free speech or religious tolerance. So why would we seek to establish a majority-rule system in such a place? Such blind allegiance to an ideology could produce disastrous consequences.
Instead, we must seek to establish a system based on absolute truth, those "non-negotiable demands of human dignity" that a pure democracy might seek to negotiate or suppress. The majority is not always right; therefore, any system based on majority rule is inherently flawed. Without a basis of truth, such as our Constitution, human rights will invariably be trampled by the masses. Without the rule of law, stabilized with a system of checks and balances, the will of the people will blow about like the desert winds. A democracy without an absolute foundation may ultimately lead to a democracy of terror.
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