A Level Gaze

"What effect must it have on a nation if it learns no foreign languages? Probably much the same as that which a total withdrawal from society has upon an individual."
--G.C. Lichtenberg



Links


New Email Address! levelgaze@gmail.com

Blogs

NoWarBlog

The Lefty Directory

The Agonist
aintnobaddude
alicublog
Alas, a Blog
Altercation
Ambivalent Imbroglio
AmericaBlog
American Street
Amygdala
Anger Management
Angry Bear
Armed Liberal
Bad Attitudes
Barney Gumble
Bartcop
Beyond Corporate
Billmon
Blah3
Body and Soul
Booman Tribune
Brad DeLong
Busy Busy Busy
Buzzflash
By Neddie Jingo
Calculated Risk
CalPundit
Chase me ladies
Chris Nelson
Contested Terrrain
Cooped Up
Conceptual Guerilla
corrente
Counterspin
Crooked Timber
Daily Howler
Daily Kos
Decembrist
Demosthenes
Driftglass
D-Squared Digest
Electrolite
Eschaton
Ethel
Ezra Klein
Fafblog!
Fanatical Apathy
Firedoglake
First Draft
Fistful of Euros
get donkey!
Globblog
The Hamster
Here's What's Left
Horowitz Watch
Housing Bubble
Hullabaloo
Intl News
Istanblog
James Wolcott
Jesus' General
Juan Cole
Junius
Lean Left
Left Coast Breakdown
Letter from Gotham
Liberal Oasis
MacDiva
MadKane
Mahablog
Majikthise
Making Light
Marginal Revolution
Mark Kleiman
Matthew Yglesias
MaxSpeak
Media Whores Online
Michael Finley
Michael Froomkin
MyDD
My Left Wing Nathan Newman
Off the Kuff
Oliver Willis
Orcinus
Pandagon
Pen-Elayne
Pfaffenblog
PLA
The Poor Man
R.B. Ham
Raed in the Middle
Ragout
Raw Story
ReachM High Cowboy
Rittenhouse Review
The Road to Surfdom
Roger Ailes
Rude Pundit
Ruminate This
Seeing the Forest
Seize the Fish
Self Made Pundit
Sideshow
Sirotablog
Sisyphus Shrugged
Skippy
Slacktivist
South Knox Bubba
Steve Gilliard
Talking Points Memo
Talk Left
The Talking Dog
Tapped
TBogg
Ted Barlow
Testify!
Thinking It Through
Through the Looking Glass
TNR Online
Tres Producers
TRR
Two Tears in a Bucket
uggabugga
Unknown News
Vaara
Wampum
War Liberal
Winning Argument
Wonkette
WTF Is It Now


General Interest

BBC News
The Economist
Metafilter
RealPolitik
Robot Wisdom



Bob. A damn fine comic.

Archives


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
 
Incomplete Elections Fine, Says Brooks

Just look what happened in El Salvador:

Conditions were scarcely better in 1984, when Salvadorans got to vote again. Nearly a fifth of the municipalities were not able to participate in the elections because they were under guerrilla control. The insurgents mined the roads to cut off bus service to 40 percent of the country. Twenty bombs were planted around the town of San Miguel. Once again, people voted with the sound of howitzers in the background.

Yet these elections proved how resilient democracy is, how even in the most chaotic circumstances, meaningful elections can be held. They produced a National Assembly, and a president, José Napoleón Duarte. They gave the decent majority a chance to display their own courage and dignity. War, tyranny and occupation sap dignity, but voting restores it.

The elections achieved something else: They undermined the insurgency. El Salvador wasn't transformed overnight. But with each succeeding election into the early 90's, the rebels on the left and the death squads on the right grew weaker, and finally peace was achieved, and the entire hemisphere felt the effects.

I mention this case study because we are approaching election day in Afghanistan on Oct. 9. Six days later, voter registration begins in Iraq. Conditions in both places will be tense and chaotic. And in Washington, a mood of bogus tough-mindedness has swept the political class. As William Raspberry wrote yesterday in The Washington Post, "the new consensus seems to be that bringing American-style democracy to Iraq is no longer an achievable goal." We should just settle for what John Kerry calls "stability." We should be satisfied if some strongman comes in who can restore order.

The people who make this argument pat themselves on the back for being hard-headed, but the fact is they are naïve.

They've got things exactly backward. The reason we should work for full democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan is not just because it's noble, but because it's practical. It is easier to defeat an insurgency and restore order with elections than without.
Brooks seems to think the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq would be well served if things turn out as well as they did in El Salvador following their incomplete elections. Would they?

By Brooks' own reckoning, 75,000 people died in El Salvador's civil war, most of them after the elections to which he refers. El Salvador's population in 1984 was 4.7 million. If things go as well for Iraq, only 413,718 more people will have to die. If Afghanistan is lucky enough to repeat El Salvador's success, only 464,897 more will die.

Of course, El Salvador's fledgling democracy had a little help from its American friends. In the interest of democracy and stability, I'm sure we'd be willing to be as gracious with Afghanistan and Iraq.

US officials say that President Bush senior's policies set the stage for peace, turning El Salvador into a democratic success story.

However, it took more than 70,000 deaths and mass human rights violations, before peace was reached.

Archbishop Romero's murder is a good example.

It was, according to declassified US documents and other witnesses, carried out by Salvadorean police intelligence agents on the orders of Major Roberto D'Aubuisson.

He was at the time running the army's intelligence war and went on to found the right-wing Arena party which is in power in El Salvador today.

No-one was brought to justice and for the next decade, when President Bush's father was heavily involved in Salvador policy, the same police agents would be at the centre of US funded efforts to wipe out left-wing guerrillas.

To defeat the rebels, the US equipped and trained an army which kidnapped and disappeared more than 30,000 people, and carried out large-scale massacres of thousands of old people women and children.
And if history continues to repeat itself, each country can look forward to a future government headed by a party founded by the murderous thug responsible for most of the killing in the first place. See? Incomplete elections work just fine.