Thursday, August 03, 2006

A little democracy is a dangerous thing

"What we in the community of established liberal democracies should do is not abandon the pursuit of democratisation but refine it. Recognise that only in exceptional circumstances (such as postwar Germany and Japan) do democracies grow from under military occupation, and that the purpose of building democracy does not justify military intervention. Accept that, as the Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji wrote in the New York Times, it's better for people to find their own paths to freedom, and our job is to support them. Learn from experience that well-defined borders, the rule of law and independent media are as important as an election - and may need to precede it. That along the way you have to negotiate with nasty people and regimes, such as Syria and Iran. And that, in this dirty, complicated world, advocates of armed struggle - terrorists, if you will - can become democratic leaders. Like Menachem Begin. Like Gerry Adams. Like Nelson Mandela." —Timothy Garton Ash

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