Democracy and Terrorism in the Middle East

I think your description of Napoleon here is very superficial. Napoleon’s expansionism was a necessary response to the aggression of the surrounding (mostly absolute) monarchies. Furthermore, the turn towards greater civil rights in other European countries is a direct result of French occupation - because their rule compared favourably with that which had come before.

It’s really real. You can read about what happened next here…

n.b. This is the United States’ first foreign war! Plus ça change…

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The whole Egypt thing was hardly necessary, like invading Italy. There are plenty of examples of unnecessary Napoleonic aggression.

That’s debatable; revolutionary ideals were already spreading, and indeed kept spreading after Napoleon himself renounced them and revealed himself for the nationalistic and imperialistic ruler he was. French occupation might have accelerated the process here and there, but in other cases (for example, Southern Italy) it actually resulted in harsh reactions that killed any hope of progressive reforms.

The turn towards greater civil rights was put in motion by Enlightenment and the subsequent French Revolution, which was arguably the greatest gift France ever made to mankind. (A marxist would even say that this movement had become necessary because of inevitable changes in underlying economic structures.) Napoleon exploited that wave for his (and France’s) own benefit. He is to revolutionary ideals what Stalin was to Communism.


Imperial expansion was part of Napoleon’s plans from the start, and Talleyrand backed him because he saw it as an opportunity for European unification, but later turned against him because the manner was too violent and counterproductive.

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I meant that in only the loosest definition of the word democratized. That’s at least the excuse that has been given for all the trouble that’s been caused in those countries. Egypt even had a fully compliant dictator who turn threw under the bus.

Democratic evangelism is definitely a core tenet of US/Western foreign policy. Or at least that’s the veneer.

Oh, yeah, there’s definitely big talking about it. The track record is at best ambiguous. Recent interventions may have had more benevolence to them , but the results aren’t always there.

How does one determine the “preferences” of those living under a totalitarian state? For example - the political parties led by Kim Jong-un won 99.97% of all potential voters in 2014.

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In the same way as for all elections: impartial international observers during elections. Does NK accept those? I guess not.

To be honest I was thinking more of places like Iran, Morocco or pre-war Syria, where there is/was a degree of democratic consultation in a system built on beliefs different from western parliamentary representation, but not necessarily totalitarian (an abused term).

“Democracy evangelism” doesn’t really tally with support for Pinochet, Batista, the Sha of Persia, pre-Kuwait Saddam Hussein, juntas in various countries (from Pakistan to Greece) and so on and so forth.

It’s just propaganda.


Bottom line is, compliant dictators are ok and recalcitrant ones get whacked one way or another.

I’m not sure that most people see the conflict that way, other than some very high level people who are shaping the intellectual contours of this struggle (Bin Laden and Huntington were in some ways mirrors of each other). The people doing the actual fighting, whether that’s those joining the US military or those signing up for jihad have much more immediate considerations in mind, for the most part. It’s the discourse that’s pushing the ideology of centuries of intractable conflict, not the people caught up in the ideology.

Do you know anything about recent history? We invaded a country and destabilized it… pretty much everything tumbles down from there. The Arab spring was what Bush HOPED would happen, and the dictators in the ME didn’t wish to cooperate with a populist uprising. They used it as a pretext to clamp down, and we let that happen, when we could have withdrawn support from regimes that brutalized their own people. We WANT them in charge, because then we get to sell them arms and have the region as we like it instead of how the people who live there might want it.


Um. No. They aren’t actually. Yemen is on the brink of disaster (if not already there), Egypt is back in the hands of the military, Syria is a mess and likely to end up in Assad’s hands, and Libya is utterly shattered right now.


This book discusses the Napoleonic invasion of Egypt…

Basically, at the time, Egypt was producing a major surplus of grain, which the French needed, is a major part of his argument.

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So you think it was a good idea to support the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt over our boy Mubarak? That’s what Obama did. Libya was perfectly fine under Khadafy. He tried to toe the US line, gave up his WMDs and promptly ended up dead much to the pleasure of HRC. Afghanistan was a triumph of US covert action to drive out the Soviets, till it wasn’t. Saddam tried to redraw the British drawn borders and he got whacked. Why doesn’t Iraq have a seaport in the Persian Gulf? And Syria. Destabilized for the benefit of who? Israel.
Yemen is interesting. Saudi weapons deals in exchange for a free hand to shape their neighbor?

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The Arab spring happened under Obama’s watch. But I can’t argue that destabilization isn’t an overall goal of US foreign policy whether Demo or GOP. It would have been better to just let the dictators keep their masses under strong rule.

And massacre them at will?

That’s a good question of course.

The problem is that our efforts (Bush in Iraq, Obama in Libya) to implement regime change have resulted in complete chaos in both places, notwithstanding Obama’s 2011 assertion that “we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq”

And faced with a dictator who kills at will, only regime change, whether internal (Ceaucescu 1989) or external (Hitler 1945) has been shown to be an effective solution.

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Again, they’ve lived under that kind of threat for all these years. What’s different now? It’s not our problem. Besides, I’d argue that it’s better to let them deal with themselves than to stir up trouble and have them cause trouble in Western countries.