Teaching political freedom to peoples that have never tasted it, who only know the power of fear, is an enormous challenge. But what is the alternative?
Over the previous decade, Palestinian society had become one of the most poisoned and fanatical on Earth. Day after day, on television and radio, in newspapers and schools, a generation of Palestinians had been subjected to the most vicious incitement by their own leaders. The only "right" that seemed to be upheld within Palestinian areas was the right of everyone to bear arms.
In such conditions of fear, intimidation and indoctrination, holding snap elections would have been an act of the utmost irresponsibility. That is why I proposed a plan calling for elections to be held no earlier than three years after the implementation of a series of democratic reforms. Three years, I believed, was the absolute minimum for democratic reforms to begin to change the atmosphere in which free elections could be held. Unfortunately, the plan was never implemented.
The recent election of Hamas is the fruit of a policy that focused on the form of democracy (elections) rather than its substance (building and protecting a free society). Rather than push for quick elections, the democratic world must use its considerable moral, political and economic leverage to help build free societies in the Middle East. We should tie trade privileges to economic freedoms, encourage foreign diplomats to meet openly with dissidents and link aid to the protection of dissents (as Bush did when he helped force the release of Egyptian democracy advocate Saad Eddin Ibrahim).
Any regime, elected or not, that works to build a free society should be seen as a partner, if not a friend. Likewise, any regime, elected or not, that chokes freedom should be seen as an adversary, if not an enemy. Obviously, any regime that supports terrorism is hostile to the most fundamental principles of a free society and should therefore be treated as an enemy.
Helping democracy take root in the Arab world will take time and persistence. Most Arab governments will try to stamp out any spark of liberty. But the democrats within these societies are our partners. We can help them by refusing to support those who repress them, and by making clear through both our statements and our policies that the efforts to expand freedom within their societies will benefit their countries as much as ours. The alternative is to return to the pre-9/11 delusion that a tyrant's repression of his own subjects has no consequences for us.
For any nation, no matter how underdeveloped, if it establishes a political system that protects individual rights, its progress and development will be phenomenal. The best in all men work to raise that society and to contribute to the progress of all -- not by self-sacrifice but by plain rational self-interest. Capitalism, as history shows, raises the general standard of living, and men of all levels of ability are rewarded and get much more than they could under any form of statism or tribal rule. --Ayn Rand
If you want to help, teach them the theory of freedom.
If people who have lived for centuries under violence discover that they can exercise their ingenuity and create something , and that their rulers will protect them rather than forbid production or expropriate what they produce, you'd be amazed what productive talent would suddenly arise.
At the start of the Industrial Revolution, most nations were pretty primitive-- perhaps not as underdeveloped as Africa, but they were savages in the Middle Ages compared to what we are today. -- Ayn Rand