December 1, 2004

HABIT FOR HUMANITY:

Vote furthers Africa's democratic spirit: Mozambique will change leaders after Thursday's election - the fifth
presidential race this year in Southern Africa. (Nicole Itano, 12/02/04, CS Monitor)

By the time the sun sets on Mozambique Thursday, as many as 8 million people will have cast their votes in the country's third election since independence in 1975. For the residents of this former Portuguese colony, this week's election marks a decade of peace, stability, and economic growth after more than 16 years of brutal civil conflict. Although the country remains one of the world's poorest and most underdeveloped, it is seen by donors as a democratic success story.

The vote in Mozambique is also the last of five presidential elections in Southern Africa this year, and the third in which a longstanding leader will step down. South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, and Malawi all held presidential elections that, for the most part, were peaceful and fair. These uneventful votes reveal a maturing of African democracy, experts say, and may mark the end of an era where leaders clung to power far past their expiration dates.

"Every time we have a relatively successful election which doesn't feature abuse ... it makes the business of democracy a bit more of a habit," says Tom Lodge, an elections expert at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, who expressed cautious optimism about the state of democracy in the region. "The blueprint of 'president for life' is no longer considered normal."


Next time someone tells you how the Middle East will never be democratic just remind yourself that in the 90s that same person said the same thing about Africa, in the 80s about Asia and in the 70s about Eastern Europe.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 1, 2004 6:35 PM
Comments

Well, I don't know for sure, but I think the idea that the Middle East will never be democratic is from the right.

It's certainly not from the people who were against our support of Pinochet, of Marcos, of apartheid. Who support the right of Haitians and Venezuelans to elect whom they wish.

I do recall the catcalls from, let's see, the right when Jimmy Carter made human rights a centerpiece of his foreign policy. Who even hooted at his grain and Olympic boycotts of the Soviet Union. Let's see: opposed dictatorships of the left and right consistently since World War II--that's who you're against?

But feel free to climb on the bandwagon, brother.

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 1, 2004 8:00 PM

In the immediate post-Colonial years, when Africa was melting down into the Third World of the Third World, someone observed that it wasn't the first election in a country that was important, but the second one -- especially when an opposition party won.

Whether the ruling party could lost an election --- step down, hand over power, and start gearing up to win back the next election -- was the crucial factor in whether "the business of democracy" could become "a bit more of a habit". Many African Presidents didn't even risk a second election to begin with, spawning the comment "One man, one vote. Once."

Posted by: Ken at December 1, 2004 8:05 PM

SS:

Franco, Pinochet, Trujillo, the Boers, etc., made their nations stable democracies. They deserved our support in the process.

Posted by: oj at December 1, 2004 8:11 PM

And it is exactly the left that is arguing against democracy in the middle East. They want stability, they love third world dictators, and they're against anything that President Bush is for.

Posted by: David Cohen at December 1, 2004 8:19 PM

Franco, Pinochet, Trujillo, the Boers, etc., made their nations stable democracies.

The same way Hitler made Germany democratic--by losing.

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 1, 2004 8:43 PM

We made Germany democratic, well half of it. Hitler lost, right before we did.

In my examples our allies democratized themselves.

Posted by: oj at December 1, 2004 8:49 PM

Of course Carter seems to have lost a lot of that human rights zeal he had in 1977 when he was pushing the Helsinki Accords (OK, he's still got the old fire about the Palestinians and the guys down in Guantanamo, but other than that...)

Posted by: John at December 1, 2004 9:05 PM

My, the attacks on Pinochet never cease do they. Let's keep something in perspective here, he may have killed 8000 of Chile's citizens (some perhaps deservedly so), but he saved them from the scourge of Allende and an increasingly socialist (and likely headed straight towards communist) government. Pinochet may be the devil in modern leftists' eyes, but Allende would have turned out no better.

Posted by: JB at December 1, 2004 9:58 PM

Franco had to die for Spain to become democratic.
Pinochet was overthrown and exiled.
Trujillo was assassinated.

Which one of these guys "democratized themselves"?

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 1, 2004 10:03 PM

SS:

Now you're just stumbling over history.

Posted by: oj at December 1, 2004 10:10 PM

oj--

As opposed to perverting it, or as opposed to ignoring it?

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 1, 2004 10:31 PM

Well, just for instance, Pinochet held a plebiscite himself, transferred power peacefully, and then took a seat in the Chilean Senate.

Posted by: oj at December 1, 2004 10:39 PM

Yes, OK, I mistakenly conflated Pinochet being overthrown with the fate of our other allies from the Argentine. He still was brought back to face trial for human rights crimes in Chile. Not because he was the founder of their democracy. Because he was, you know, a murderer.

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 1, 2004 11:06 PM

Yeah? How'd that trial go?

Posted by: oj at December 1, 2004 11:22 PM

He was ruled incompetent to stand trial due to a vascular dementia. What you law'n'order types would call "getting off on a technicality."

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 1, 2004 11:32 PM

Ah, so, no trial?

Posted by: oj at December 1, 2004 11:34 PM

That's what "ruled incompetent to stand trial" means. So feel free to happily declare that although he was a murderous tyrant, he was never convicted of it in a court of law, and is therefore a great and wonderful friend of democracy. Of course, Hitler never stood trial either, due to his medical condition. I'm still thinking your argument adds up to "Hitler was a great friend of democracy."

If one more to have a cynical view.

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 1, 2004 11:53 PM

Hitler we hunted to his death and tried and killed his henchmen. Pinochet retired with honors. He killed folks who needed killing.

Posted by: oj at December 1, 2004 11:56 PM

...were to have a cynical view.

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 1, 2004 11:56 PM

Pinochet retired with honors

As would Hitler if he hadn't invaded Russia.

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 1, 2004 11:59 PM

Had Hitler only invaded Russia and destroyed the Bolsheviks he'd have earned honors.

Posted by: oj at December 2, 2004 12:01 AM

BTW, nice endorsement of murder and terror. I am truly abashed in the face of your devout Christianity.

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 2, 2004 12:16 AM

What's more Christian?

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword."

Posted by: oj at December 2, 2004 12:18 AM

You can call it the First Church of Hot Fudge Sundays for all I care. Just as long as you know what you are: an apostle of murder.

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 2, 2004 12:40 AM

SS:

Hey, you'd make a great Canadian. Killing is always wrong and bad and we should just handle everything through workshops on conflict resolution. Then when millions are slaughtered as in Russia, China, Cambodia, Africa etc., we say "Whoops!, how awful." and get out our bumper stickers.

How about we do a tally of the victims of all your favourite right-wing bogeymen and match them against the heros of the left. You go first.

Posted by: Peter B at December 2, 2004 5:41 AM

In light of the discussion above, I'd love to hear SS's take on the Groningen Protocol. One suspects that, being a good free-thinking independent-minded rationalist unencumbered by obsolete Christian thinking, he probably supports it.

Posted by: Mike Morley at December 2, 2004 6:37 AM

SS:

Killing, not murder.

Posted by: oj at December 2, 2004 8:35 AM

Peter B.--

I'm not sure how to make this clear to you. I support democracy, not as a convenient excuse to invade whoever we wish to invade, but as a real outcome for the world's people. Not only did I never support people like Pol Pot or Saddam, I was always critical of those Americans who enabled them rhetorically or through cynical policy. As did virtually all of the Left. Apparently, the Right is even now OK with its killers and oppressors (see oj's and JB's remarks)--you want to support murder as policy if you like the politics, but be able to say "it's the Left that supports murder as policy." Well, knock yourselves out, but don't expect to fool me.

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 2, 2004 8:37 AM

oj--

Don't be so shy.

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 2, 2004 8:42 AM

SS:

Shy? I'm saying their communists deserved killing.

Posted by: oj at December 2, 2004 8:47 AM

Mike--

I'm not actually for making that sort of thing legal.

One suspects that, being a good free-thinking independent-minded rationalist unencumbered by obsolete Christian thinking, he probably supports it.

Good citation of the evidence, incorrect inference.

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 2, 2004 8:51 AM

OJ:

I think Jesus was speaking about a spiritual sword, not a metal one. I chuckled and shook my head as I read your comments above. Do you honestly believe that Jesus would condone state santioned murder and terror and other abuses of governmental power and authority on the level of Hitler, Stalin, Pinochet, Pol Pot, etc.?

On the broader message of the article...
It's wonderful tyo witness the birth of a democratic spirit in Africa. It does offer a ray of hope that this spirit will take hold in the Middle East. Sadly, it's gonna be a bloody decade or so between now and then.

Posted by: Dave W. at December 2, 2004 8:54 AM

oj--

Well, why not call it murder? They were kidnapped, tortured, and killed. Really, that's premeditated murder. Just say it loud and say it proud: "they needed murderin'!" Of course, not nearly all of them were communists, if that matters. And whether or not they had committed crimes wasn't an issue. Though many had the temerity to speak out in favor of the democracy you profess to love.

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 2, 2004 8:59 AM

Dave:

Who has ever killed more humans than God? The Flood, Soddom and Gommorah, the Egyptians....

Posted by: oj at December 2, 2004 9:00 AM

SS:

Nice try. The United States is the world's great power and bears responsibility for much of the world's security. Whether that is right or fair is all very interesting, but to deny that fact is to live in a historical fantasy land. Now, compare the number of deaths and atrocities under its watch to any other historical great power and compare the nature of the regimes it promotes to those it opposes.

There is no way in this vale of tears that we are going to talk all the bad guys into good behaviour. A threat has to be fought and not with endless hand-wringing either. If you wish to pretend that that constitutes bloodlust or a love of killing, go ahead, but don't pretend that condemning Pol Pot in the abstract while blaming his sins on others and opposing efforts to stop him does a thing to help anyone.

Posted by: Peter B at December 2, 2004 9:03 AM

SS:

Because it was justified killing, not murder.

Posted by: oj at December 2, 2004 9:26 AM

SS:

Gotta admit you surprised me there.

Don't mean to sound snarky or sour-grape-y, but I'd still bet I can predict where you come out on most issues.

Posted by: Mike Morley at December 2, 2004 10:01 AM

Just to add one more thought:

In April of 1945, my father's division liberated a concentration camp. He doesn't like to talk about it, but he did tell me one detail: the German guards and camp administrators surrendered to the Americans, but his unit didn't take any of them prisoner. That wasn't quite in accord with the Geneva Convention, I know--but somehow, I can't work up any righteous indignation about my father's participation in "war crimes."

Posted by: Mike Morley at December 2, 2004 10:11 AM

OJ:
So now the Father and the Son would condone, that is approve of and endorse, state sanctioned murders, killings, brutality among other abusesof governmental power? How about the Holy Spirit? Why not make it the complete Godhead.

My point is that you are misapplying Jesus' words. Taken in context, he was saying something like, 'my message is sometimes going to cause divisions. It certainly will divide you from your family if you follow me.' I don't like to see any passage of scripture twisted or misused to justify (or even criticize) something it doesn't.

Peter:
well stated post.

Mike:
Had I been w/your father that day, my righteous indignation and anger would have been directed toward the Nazi's, not toward my fellow soldiers.

Posted by: Dave W. at December 2, 2004 11:19 AM

Dave:

He said He came with a sword and He did divide us to the point of killing each other and Him--seems reasonable to assume He meant what He said.

Posted by: oj at December 2, 2004 11:37 AM

Orrin, the problem of Christians coming with swords is exactly the problem.

They are so indiscriminate about it.

Spain, by the way, had a democracy before Franco. Crediting him for restoring the democracy he destroyed is cynicism worthy of a Lenin.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at December 2, 2004 2:10 PM

Harry:

No it didn't it had a Civil War. Lenin, of course, didn't leave behind a democracy on his death, diod he? That's the difference between your side and ours.

The Christian sword has been quite discriminating.

Posted by: oj at December 2, 2004 2:16 PM

Franco was Europe's best leader between 1918 and 1940.

Think of Adenauer, with a stronger punch.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 2, 2004 3:23 PM

Through '45, at least. What nation of Europe had a better War?

Posted by: oj at December 2, 2004 5:45 PM

Peter B.--

Down here on earth the government charged with much of the world's security enabled Pol Pot.

Mike--

I'd still bet I can predict where you come out on most issues.

Possibly. Especially if the issues are as easy as "is evolution a religion?" "was Pinochet a good guy?" or "can turkeys fly?"

Posted by: Social Scientist at December 2, 2004 6:57 PM

We didn't enable Pol Pot, we walked away because of the Left.

Posted by: oj at December 2, 2004 7:04 PM

SS:

"Down here on earth the government charged with much of the world's security enabled Pol Pot."

SS, I'm sure you're a perfectly nice guy, but you've signed on to the world of rote ideology, fevered conspiracy and a racist theory of international relations. Nobody but the u.S. is responsible, right? If you honestly believe the U.S. enabled Pol Pot, other thn by declining to crush him, then there is little left to say. You would never, ever make such an accusation against any other country in the world, but you happily make it against your own, which just happens to have freed and protectd more than any in history. Do you know of any other country in the world where even dissident citizens crap on their own like you do? (And please don't duck the question with pap about how you are a "true" American testing freedom to its ultimate limits--been done before.)

Just who in the world do you think you are protecting and speaking for? Who have you ever heard of that expresses public thanks for leftist regimes?

Posted by: Peter B at December 2, 2004 7:57 PM

While I don't agree with everything Social Scientist says, he does score some good points here.

Mindless justification of right wing tyrants--ofentimes no better than mafioso with flags--does no one any credit.

There is far more to Pol Pot than can be laid at the US's door, but bombing crap out of Cambodia can't have helped things much.


Posted by: Jeff Guinn at December 2, 2004 8:55 PM

Jeff:

Begging your pardon, but there's nothing mindless about recognizing Franco's achievements. Indeed, to accept the New Dealer/Communist caricature of him is mindless.

Posted by: oj at December 2, 2004 10:13 PM

OJ:

By free will we chose to take Jesus' sword comment to the extreme we have, just as the concept of jihad has been taken to an extreme in 20th/21st Century Islam.

Posted by: Dave W. at December 3, 2004 12:56 AM
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