Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Fisking SEDHE

Click here for AmazonI wrote an editorial for one of the metro dailies a few weeks back. SEDHE is, I think, a group blog based in the Midwest that took issue with the editorial. In it -- written only days before the Iraqi election -- I reprised Joshua Muravchik's key points regarding the crucial onset of democracy among predominantly Arab countries in the Middle East.

Rather than address any of the salient thrusts of the article, Mark (of SEDHE) pulled the Al Franken-esque trick of chipping away at the periphery in hopes of discrediting the larger argument. Let's take a quick, Fisky look at Mark's objections to my piece:

"In 1776, there was exactly one country in the world with an elected government: the United States of America." Really, Doug? By my calculations, there were no elected governments in 1776, since the United States did not exist until 1789! Once again, we have confused the Declaration of Independence -- a persuasive essay -- for the Constitution -- a legal document.

Yes, because we all remember celebrating the bicentennial in 1989... it was a glorious winter day, with just a hint of spring rustling through the Berkshires, ah... I remember it well. And, each year, of course, we celebrate the birth of our country on March 4.

All that being said, Mark needs to go back to his seventh grade American History textbook. You know, the illustrated one with the picture of The Continental Congress. Yes, that Continental Congress, an elected set of delegates and the government for the United States during the American Revolution (1775-1783). Because Britain wasn't going to let the colonies form their own government, some people in the congress believed independence was their only alternative. It approved the resolution on July 2, 1776 and on July 4 it adopted The Declaration of Independence. Most observers -- other than SEDHE -- believe the date of July 4, 1776 marked the formation of our country.

Aside from being flat out wrong, Mark in no way addresses the point of the article. Namely that from 1776, democracy as a form of government went from 0 to 117 countries. The tide of democracy is inexporably washing away authoritarian regimes.

He then gives us a lesson in contemporary geo-politics. "Israel is the sole democracy among 18 states [in the Middle East]. The handiwork of George W. Bush is therefore astonishing: Afghanistan, the Palestinian Authority, and -- within days -- Iraq will have held elections." Not so fast there, Sunny Jim. What did George W. Bush have to do with elections in the Palestinian Authority?

All that negotiation Bill Clinton did with thieving billionaire terrorist dictator Arafat worked out well for the peace process didn't it? Bush's refusal to speak with Arafat -- and support for democracy -- made the PA election process inevitable once the PA thug (thankfully) expired. But don't believe me. Ask the liberals in Israel:

..."There is a change in the atmosphere," said Amram Mitzna, a leader of Israel's dovish Labor Party...

And SEDHE's post gets even better.

...let's talk about these elections in Iraq... Mark my words: tomorrow's election will be a bloodbath.

I heard the Iraqi elections called many things: successful, a moving tribute to freedom, vindication for Bush. I think we can safely say it was not, however, a bloodbath. Much as Mark may have hoped for that.

...Let's go back to that statement that Israel is the sole democracy in the Middle East. What happened to Turkey? Last I checked, Turkey was a secular democracy and it was one of our good friends...

The scholastic website Nationmaster ranks Turkey 34th of 36th European and North American countries in terms of civil and political liberties (only Bosnia/Herzegovina and Belarus rank lower). The measure of freedom is not simply holding an election... it is liberty, plain and simple.

And what is this "18 states" thing? Did Mr. Ross pick 18 states at random? By my count (and by the Columbia Encyclopedia's), there are 12 states in the Middle East: Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. Where did the other six states come from?

Let's count, shall we? It's not very hard... really. Using About's Geography Guide: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, and
Yemen. That's 19... if you assume that Lebanon isn't a puppet of Syria, which -- according to the United Nations -- it is. In which case, there are 18 sovereign countries.

But I digress. There are major issues Mark could have attacked. Instead, he chips away at the edges, hoping for a victory in a minor skirmish. For, as we all know, on the big issues the Left's batting record ain't real good.

...So, in short, Mr. Doug Ross... has demonstrated that he knows nothing about the world except what he is told by the Bush administration... I loathe the Bush administration.

'Nuff said.

There will come a day

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