Sunday, January 23, 2005
A speaker purporting to be Iraq's most feared terror leader declared a "fierce war" on democracy and said in an audiotape posted Sunday on the Web that the Americans were using next weekend's Iraqi elections to install the Shiites in power.
"We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology," said the speaker, who identified himself as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of the al-Qaida affiliate in Iraq. "Anyone who tries to help set up this system is part of it."
He just does not believe in the consent of the governed, because he believes that only Allah can give that consent. The United States could leave tomorrow and al-Zarqawi would fight on because he rejects popular sovereignty as a matter of principle.
It is a virtually unbreakable law of history that people who reject popular sovereignty in principle must be killed in great quantities in order for them to give up their struggle in despair. The Arab world cannot be free until it deals with this question. It must pass through a crucible of war before it can build lasting institutions of representative government. There is no shortcut, and there never has been. There are very few meaningful democracies on earth that became such without enduring a brutal war, and the Arab world is unlikely to follow the same trajectory as Spain, for example, or Poland. If the Arabs are ever going to be free, they must fight this war, and the West must stop fretting about it and calculating the best way to achieve a positive result.
The questions, of course, are legion. When will these wars happen? I think in the next generation. What will be their outcome? Like it or not, the security of the West hangs in the balance.