Thursday, March 01, 2007

The (alleged) roots of today's wars The (alleged) roots of today's wars

USATODAY.com: The roots of today's wars argues that the root of today's wars, as with most of history, is ethnic, and that we delude ourselves when we think that it is about ideas. And the article faults the Bush Administration for its naive handling of Iraq, thinking that we could translate the diaglog in the Middle East through imposition of democracy.

Overall, I somewhat agree. However, I view Iraq somewhat similar to an earth quake, typically caused by two plates slipping by each other. Periodically, the pressure is released as the friction between them is overcome, resulting in earth quakes. What democracy has done in Iraq is acted as a lubricant, greasing the plates between the ethnic minorities. So, for a short period of time, we have an earth quake there. But by providing the grease, democracy should allow the ethnic minorities to live together more peacably in the future.

The problem in Iraq, as well as throughout much of the Third World, is that one ethnic minority will inevitably get control of a country. In Iraq, of course, it was the (then) 20% Sunni Arabs. And, throughout much of recorded history, such a minority could control the majority through force, intimidation, etc. But part of what has happened in the last decade or so is that countries have lost control over information. Thus, a persecuted minority can find out that there are other ways of living in this world. And with that knowledge, comes the pressure for change. If the Americans (and other First World countries) can democratically elect their government(s), then why not the Iraqis? And if the Iraqis can, then why not the Iranians and the Saudis? Why not the Chinese?

Which may be the best response to this article - that the new world information society is still so new that the ensuing drive for democracy hasn't had a chance to work its way through the Third World yet. After all, we are overcoming millenia of minority rule through force in most cases. But realistically, some form of democracy is inevitable for most of the world in response to the democratization of information.

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