Dynamite: Commentary abandons democratism
In the lead article of the September issue of Commentary, “How to Manage Savagery,” Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal writes:
First, while we should pursue democratic (and economic) openings wherever we realistically can do so, our overarching and primary aim is to make the Muslim world unsafe for radicalism—whether that radicalism is of the Islamist, pan-Arabist, or Baathist variety. This means a policy of unyielding opposition to groups like Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood and to the Iranian and Syrian regimes, despite growing calls to come to terms with all of them. But we must also come to terms with the limits of what intervention in Muslim politics can plausibly achieve. In particular, we need to be attentive to the fact that Western-style political or social prescriptions can often be counterproductive.Of course, the neoconservatives and President Bush have been haranguing us since 2002 with the ONE TRUTH that democratization is the sine qua non, the indispensable condition for “draining the swamps” of Muslim radicalism. Now, suddenly, Commentary describes Muslim democratization as desirable when possible, but no longer essential. The priority, Commentary tells us, is containing Muslim radicalism, not spreading democracy. Further, as Stephens explains (and I will have much more to say about this later), the primary means of containing Muslim radicalism is not spreading democracy to Muslim societies that are completely unsuited for it, but something very different—something, oh, traditional.
Thus, with a single subordinate clause (“while we should pursue democratic … openings wherever we realistically can do so”), Commentary has renounced the policy it has vociferously pushed on America for the last six years, the Bush Democracy Project, aggressively advocated by Commentary’s former editor, Norman Podhoretz, in one encyclical-length article after another.