Friday, January 21, 2005

Thoughts on a Second Mid-East Democracy

Having returned early from the shuk on account of a bomb scare, I have found myself with some spare time to post to the blog.

In chapter 5 of The Prince, Machiavelli says, "When those states that are acquired, as has been said, are accustomed to living by their own laws and in liberty, there are three modes for those who want to hold them: first ruin them; second, go there to live personally; third, let them live by their laws. . . . For since such a state has been created by that prince, it knows it cannot stand without his friendship and power, and it has to do everything to maintain him. And a city used to living free may be held more easily by means of its own citizens than in any other moder, if one wants to preserve it" (Mansfield translation, University of Chicago Press: 1998). The examples Machiavelli then proceeds to give of those who tried the third mode are the Spartans and the Romans -- both republics.

Although the Israels have for a long time now tried some sort of mixture of all three modes, it appears that they are finally settling for the third mode. Problem is: it isn't clear that Palestine is a state "accustomed to living by [its] own laws and in liberty". If I recall correctly, even after the Palestinians were freed from Jordanian tyranny, they have resisted every attempt to allow them to live by their own laws and in liberty. Even generous offers of autonomy and control of territory have been rejected in favor of more suicidal public policy.

Yet Israel may have solved this problem by establishing not only a democracy for the Palestinians, but also borders for their territory. Perhaps like the Israeli republic, the Palestinians also seem to have no constitution. The moderate terrorist Abbas is also a new hopeful for the fledgling democracy, despite the fact that links between his Al Aksa Suiciders and the recent bombings in Gaza might seem to undermine his intentions toward any sort of peace with Israel. A strong enough wall, however, between Israel and Palestine should prevent most serious infringements on Abbas's desire for peace and stability.

Nonetheless, for those of us who live on the democratic frontier, there is more to worry about from across the border than a few Mexicans looking for work.

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