Gerecht’s contradictory strategy for democratizing Islam

As discussed earlier, Reuel Marc Gerecht thinks it would be a good idea for Moslem countries to allow Islamists to participate in elections and come to power. Curiously, however, he has two, quite different rationales for this. First, as Daniel Pipes summarizes Gerecht’s position:

[Gerecht] concludes that Washington should put aside its misgivings and encourage Sunni Islamists to compete in elections. Let them come to power, discredit themselves, alienate their subject populations, and then be thrown into the dustbin of history.

Second, as Gerecht said in the interview I’ve critiqued:

Q: … don’t the fundamentalists just want to take over the government and establish their own religious dictatorship?

A: They may want that. It’s impossible to know for sure until you have elections…. Elections introduce the idea of popular sovereignty and make it competitive with, if not superior to, the Holy Law. Elections thereby force fundamentalists—who are hardly a monolithic bloc—to compete against each other and against others of a more liberal and secular stripe. Intellectually, the age of dictatorship is dead in the Muslim Middle East.

So, on one hand, Gerecht says it would be good to allow the jihadists to run as candidates in elections because when they come to power they will soon discredit themselves. On the other hand, he says it would be good for them to run in elections because elections have a liberalizing effect on everyone who participates in them.

Is it Gerecht’s purpose to discredit the jihadists, or to liberalize them?

The mutually contradictory reasons Gerecht gives for including Islamists in elections strengthen the impression that his motive for advancing this crazy proposal is not that he believes in it, but that he’s looking for some way, any way, to keep afloat the Bush/neocon idea that the U.S. is capable of socially engineering and democratizing the Moslem world.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 24, 2005 08:04 AM | Send

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