Podhoretz’s fake reply to a decisive refutation of democratism
I stopped by a Barnes & Noble on Wednesday and looked up Hamas in the index of Norman Podhoretz’s new book, World War IV. I wanted to see if Podhoretz discussed the election of Hamas in the Palestinian territories and what that event said about his hopes for Muslim democracy. In fact, Podhoretz did mention (on p. 211) the electoral victories of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood. By way of reply to the idea that these developments disprove his own belief in the salvific power of democracy, he quoted one of his two all-purpose authorities on things Islamic, Amir Taheri. Podhoretz’s other all-purpose authority on things Islamic is Fouad Ajami, a once-engaging intellectual whose brains have been fried by smoking too much “Dubya.” In fact, there is an entire sub-culture in America populated by once-talented individuals who have destroyed their brains the same way—it’s the Desolation Row of the neocons.
Taheri said that even though these elections seem like a defeat in the campaign to create through democracy a moderate, “swamp-drained” Mideast, they are actually a positive development, because they establish in the Mideast the principle that legitimacy requires popular elections. That was it. Podhoretz’s quotation of Taheri’s non-sequitur was his full reply to the decisive discrediting of his position by the popular election victories of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
In addition to being non-responsive, Taheri’s argument is self-contradictory. If popular elections bring jihadists and terrorists to power, then, far from establishing the principle that popular elections are the basis of legitimacy in Muslim countries, such elections prove that popular elections in Muslim countries are a calamity to be avoided at all costs.