Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Democracy and terrorism

Enough reading of Yglesias and other smart people has taught me that setting up democracy doesn't help you eliminate terrorism, at least in the short term. Since terrorists don't need to be state-sponsored, they can flourish no matter what kind of political system they're in. Terrorists of both the international and intranational varieties may even do better in democracy, since democratic governments are less likely to take hard-core repressive measures that could stop them. And as far as intranational terrorism goes, cohesive ethnic/religious minorities (N. Ireland, the Tamil in Sri Lanka, Basque separatists) will still engage in terrorism because they don't want to be part of the same democracy as everybody else, since that just allows the large number of other people to rule them.

Iraq is a perfect example of a state that's going to run into these problems. You can't split up the country because Sistani and the Shiites won't let you. So the minority Sunnis are going to be stuck in the same country as the Shiites whom they held power over for so long. Since the Shiites control lots of the oil-rich lands and the Sunnis don't, there are going to be explosive economic issues at stake too.

There are long-term ways in which democracy helps against terrorism. If democracy leads to the government helping the people develop their economy, and they all get rich and happy, they might not do so much terrorism of either kind. And if they feel that their government represents them, they're probably not going to attack it. But in the short term (which could be a few decades) terrorism continues.


QuickSauce said...

Yeah, the whole connection between a form of government and terrorism seems like a wash to me. Tim McVeigh and his brethren should be enough to prove it, but I also think it's significant that some (maybe most; I haven't seen stats, just news) of the suicide attacks in Turkey were committed by Turks. According to the fantasies of Bush and Rumsfeld, that shouldn't happen.

disaster preparation said...

It will take several years for democracy to assist with the countries in the Middle East, such as Iraq. I still believe that despite the fact that their economic and political aspects could turn around, these countries that have been engulfed in violence for countless centuries, it will take a lot more than someone coming in and trying to instill democracy.