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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
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Thomas Friedman writes the clearest argument for internal change within the Muslim world I have seen lately. He points to Iran and its recent student protests as the only real way that Arab discontent will subside infavor of democratic principles. He writes that the calls for reform in Iran are a, "combination of Martin Luther and Tiananmen Square — a drive for an Islamic reformation combined with a spontaneous student-led democracy movement." Friedman correctly states that reform must must come from within in order to be lasting.
"To put it another way, what's going on in Iran today is precisely the war of ideas within Islam that is the most important war of all. We can kill Osama bin Laden and all his acolytes, but others will spring up in their place. The only ones who can delegitimize and root out these forces in any sustained way are Muslim societies themselves. And that will happen only when more Muslim societies undergo, from within, their own struggle for democracy and religious reform. Only the disenchanted citizens of the Soviet bloc could kill Marx; only Muslims fed up that their faith is being dominated by anti-modernists can kill bin Ladenism and its offshoots."
Islam needs reform for its own sake. It does not need to see itself as the opposite of modernity. Islam has amazing potential. Who will unlock it?
So let me get this straight. Germany, which owes both its economic and political growth in the past half century to the United States; which is the heart of a future strong, prosperous and effective European Union; which could reap tremendous benefits from a democratic Iraq in the future in terms of its economic interests; and which holds its governing principles of freedom, liberty and equal justice to be supreme in the nature of its society; this is the Germany that scoffs at American and British attempts to address the threat of Iraq at a relatively early stage and insists that it is not Iraq who must be detered or preempted, but the United States, the big bully from across the pond. Germany has pronounced itself as strongly opposed to military action in Iraq. It seems as if the Germans have done this not because they see Saddam Hussein as a nice, innocent guy with angellic motives. Certainly the Germans are not that dumb. But rather they see the American attempt at neutralizing the Iraqi threat as an afront to German, or possibly even European power. Germany sees America's willingness to form a "coalition of the willing" as an alliance that will move Germany not only away from the decision table, but away from the centers of power for good. Instead of seeing America as a power with principled aims that are identical to Germany's own of freedom, liberty, etc., Germans see the increase in American hegemony as a threat to their own base of power in the international system. Instead of joining the bandwagon of American influenced peace, Germany has chosen to lead the opposition.
In contrast, Turkey has embraced American influence and has recongnized the way of the future. Turkey has recongnized that its route to Western legitimacy is by reforming its political system and economic infrastucture for the benefit of its people. If you look at those nations with the most prosperous democracies and those which are most successful in instituting political freedoms, you will see that there is a direct correlation to that nation's per capita GDP. As countries transform their political systems for the benefit of the people, their income's increase and people prosper. Turkey has recongnized that by following the American lead it will make a better Turkey for its people.
When Turkey recently had elections and the Justice and Development Party won in overwhelming fashion many in the United States and Europe were frightened by the party's roots in Islam. They were frightened that Turkey, the example for a successful Muslim state, a paradigm for democratic principles to flourish in an Arab state, would be sucked back into the backwardness and brutally repressed doctrines of theocratic governments across the Muslim world. To assure the nay-sayers of the new government's allegiance to Turkey's strong secular history, the Justice and Development Party described itself as a Muslim version of Germany's Christian Democrats - a conservative, yet secular party with moral and religious motives entering the halls of power, but not becoming the crucial factor in policy making.
While many questioned this claim, it may indeed by exactly what the West needs. If Turkey were to completely become the puppet of American policy and overhaul its entire history of Muslim identity, it is virtually certain that the rest of the Muslim world would see Turkey as the epitome of the Muslim sellout. On the contrary, when Turkey is able to develop as a prosperous, democratic nation full of wealth and liberty, yet still maintaining a strong allegiance to Islam and its cultural roots, Turkey will be more able than ever to prove to both Europe and the Muslim world that Democracy and Islam are not contradictory goals. A conservative democratic government in Turkey is exactly what the United States should be hoping for. The United States needs Turkey to be that bridge to Middle Eastern development. If Turkey can prove the possibilities of freedom and democracy succeeding in a nation made up almost entirely of Muslims, there is little reason for the rest of Islam not to follow.
As an example of Turkey's important role in international affairs it has, today, agreed to allow an attack on Iraq to be based from its soil. Turkey recognizes the threat that Iraq poses to the region and the hijacking of Islam that has dominated the politics its neighbors. Turkey, with this admission, has taken a crucial step towards showing that it recognizes the importance of eliminating threates to democracy and threats to Islam simultaniously. Turkey is in an important position for defending two of its most important pillars of domestic power. Recognition of this duel threat is what will make Turkey, and any Muslim nation that sees the possibilities of secular reform, leaders and important players in the international system for years to come.