Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Europe NEEDS democracy in the Middle East

more than the United States.

Emmanuele Ottolenghi has a brilliant article in the NRO on why old Europe has got it all wrong.

In truth, advancing the cause of freedom in the Middle East is even more important for Europe than the United States. With a Muslim minority of roughly 20 million today, which stands to grow to 40-50 million in the next two decades at the current pace of birth rates and immigration, Europe desperately needs Euro-Muslims to embrace a liberal version of Islam that will foster, not hinder integration...In France, as many as 50 percent of that country's prisons' inmates are Muslim — a clear sign that integration failed...It is in Europe's interest to promote a moderate variant of Islam on the continent, but there is no escaping that Euro-Islam — much like Islam in Pakistan or Indonesia — will view Middle East's Islam as authoritative. And so to nurture liberal Islam in Europe, Europe must promote liberal Islam in the Middle East, something that cannot be done unless the cause of freedom is also promoted. [emphasis mine.]

This is not happening. Consider France's decision to ban al-Manar — Hezbollah's TV station — from broadcasting in France. France shut down al-Manar because of the fear that its sinister message of hateful incitement would, in the long term, stir trouble within its Muslim population. Yet, France is doing nothing to have Europe list Hezbollah as a terror organization, nor is it pressuring either Syria or Iran to disarm Hezbollah. Instead of taking action to promote a change in the Middle East, whose moderate nature will also reverberate in Europe, France chose to address the symptoms of a disease without tackling its causes. No palliative can ever replace an effective cure. And no message of hatred can ultimately be stopped from reaching Europe's shores. It is the source of hatred that must be eradicated instead.

In short, Europe should have lobbied for democracy in the Middle East, not America. And Europe should be, financially and politically, at the forefront of its promotion. This is not the case. Europe, in its atavistic fear of upsetting the regional status quo, is ultimately working against its own interest.

Its token involvement in Iraq indicates that [old] Europe is still ambivalent about democracy, as if the Schadenfreude that an American failure in Iraq would give many Europeans was preferable to a vindication of President Bush' foreign policy. But failure would cause a political tsunami that would hit Europe's shores long before its attenuated effect could reach America.

If America fails in the region, Europe will be the first to pay the price. [emphasis mine.]

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