We have seen how Muslim extremists behave once they attain power. How they turned Iran into a house of horrors over the last quarter century, from which it is only now beginning to emerge. How they have victimized the Afghans, brutalizing and executing anyone who did not accept their insanity, anyone who did not have the wit to flee across the border, which millions, to repeat, millions, have done. As I write this, reports are emerging of massacres of refugees being committed by Taliban fighters.
How do Muslim fundamentalists in other parts of the world treat their fellow Muslims, with whom they disagree? How do Muslim fundamentalists handle a life in political opposition?
For this lesson, we turn to Algeria.
In the Muslim world, Algeria is somewhat unique. It was once considered an integral part of France, and French cultural ties are still very strong there. Most of the educated elite speak French, and at least a part of Algerian society could be considered to be culturally Western in orientation.
Unfortunately, their political and economic orientation was socialist, even soviet. During some thirty years in power, beginning in 1962 with independence from France, they built a one-party police state, an economy based on government-owned industries, and collectivized agriculture.
This economic model worked as well in Algeria as it did in the USSR, which is to say, it didn't. But Algeria had its oil wealth to pay the bills and to keep its system limping along, at least until the mid-eighties. By that time, low oil prices ground the economy down into bankruptcy.
The hard times continued, year after year, until the people were driven to the breaking point, and massive, violent rioting rocked the country. By the nineties, in an attempt to bring order to the country, the president took steps toward democracy, scheduling elections, and legalizing opposition parties.
This would have been great, except for a couple of problems.
First, the Western oriented elite had, for almost 30 years, driven the economy into the ground, and the people learned to associate Western culture with their disastrous soviet style economy and all the misery it had brought.
Second, there was for years no alternative to the ruling party, and in their misery, and in their rejection of Western culture which they conflated with police-states and socialism, the people turned to the Islamist parties which had begun organizing clandestinely in the mosques.
And thirdly, in the late eighties and early nineties, the Algerian veterans from the Afghan war were coming home.
So when the elite finally opened the door to democratic opposition, there was only one party of opposition, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS). Not too surprisingly, the FIS swept the elections, as Algerians expressed their rejection of the status quo by voting for the only opposition party.
Faced with a landslide victory for the Islamic fundamentalists, and fearing both an Iran style revolution and an end to elite privilege, the military deposed the the existing president, whom they blamed for having allowed the elections in the first place, and then threw out the elections.
The FIS, robbed of their victory at the polls, held candlelight vigils and published acerbic editorials until the government buckled and honored the election results....
No, that's not what happened.
What happened is that a civil war broke out in 1992 that has killed 100,000 Algerians. Mostly civilians. Mostly civilians killed by the "fundamentalist" terrorists.
While they have certainly also targeted police and soldiers, the unique thing about the Algerian terrorists is their habit of attacking unarmed civilians. Motorists at impromptu roadblocks along the highway, bathers at the beach, families in their homes, they have turned Algeria into a butcher shop.
Their preferred method is the slit throat. They enter a village and, taking their time, maybe taking the whole night, kill every inhabitant of the village. Whole families in their sleep.
Schools are targeted, hundreds destroyed, kids killed in their dorms, teachers killed in front of their students.
Pop singers have been murdered. TV personalities. Journalists.
Why don't you read much about this war? Because scores of journalists habe been murdered and hundreds have left the country. The life expectancy of a journalist in some areas can be measured in minutes. So those wo remain write about other things.
Cabaret singers are a favorite target, being dragged into the street to have their throats cut.
Ramadan doesn't slow the killing at all. Ramadan in 1998 saw the slaughter of between one and two thousand victims, again, mostly civilians, mostly having their throats cut. This last year was a slow one, as only about 200 people were murdered during Holiday Season 2000.
So far this year, the death toll is at about two thousand, with Ramadan still to come.
Socialism Versus Islamo-Fascism
Our policy toward Algeria during the last decade, under Clinton, was to support the FIS, which is to say, the fundamentalists. Throughout the decade, Clinton and Albright pushed the government to negotiate with the killers, and to accept some sort of power-sharing arrangement with them. Although how you share power with people who kill grandmothers and little girls, I don't know.
So, this is the problem for today's civics lesson. If the people have democratically elected psycho-killers into office, by what right does any one deny them office?
If we believe in democracy, as we say we do, how can we do anything other than support the will of the people?
The Will Of The People
This is a question that is more universal than one might suppose. And to answer that question, you have to distinguish between Liberty, which is our goal, and Democracy, which is a means to that end. To be more clear, Democracy is not Freedom. Freedom is Freedom. Democracy is merely the tool, or the technique of government that we have chosen as the most likely to lead to that end.
But what happens when 51% of the people vote to give up their liberty? Are the other 49% obligated to give up their liberty as well, on the basis of "majority rules"?
Hitler was elected. The Ayatollah's men were elected, and re-elected again and again. Salvador Allende was elected, and upon his election, began to dismantle his country. Chavez of Venezuela was elected in a landslide, and immediately threw out the constitution, and packed all three branches of government with his cronies, so that, by now, there is probably no peaceful way on earth to retire him from office.
Democracy means rule by the majority. Let's pause for a moment and think about that, looking at the people you know, the people up and down the street from you. Do any of us really want to be ruled by a majority of the people we hnow?
I didn't think so.
We only agree to it because we have agreed in advance to certain ground rules. We have placed limits to what the majority is allowed to do. Call this agreement a constitution, call it a bill of rights. Those limits are the picket fence that will keep the majority off your grass.
If the majority votes against us, even a very foolish majority, we accept it because we know that they will accept the limitations we have agreed upon, and that down the road, by debate and by persuasion, we can try to undo whatever damage they have done.
Freedom requires a society of people who by and large love liberty for themselves, respect their fellows, and obey laws willingly that they have imposed on themselves. These are moral qualities. In the absence of these moral qualities, liberty cannot take root and cannot be maintained.
The grave error, when faced with an opponent in an election who does not believe in liberty, is to face him in an election in the first place. If someone is at war with liberty, you do not let him near the seat of power, you do not risk handing over control of the security forces and the treasury. If someone is at war with liberty, you must recognize that he is at war with you, and you with him.
It is one thing to lose an election to fellow freedom lovers, of whatever party; it may be bad, it may be disasterous, but the debate continues tomorrow and the next day after that. But to risk liberty in an electoral contest with totalitarians is fatal and evil foolishness.
This is self-evident, and it is the principle underlying our 2nd. Amendment: if ever a government refuses to go when its time is up, the citizenry is legally authorized to make it go.
Back to Reality
But what if your electoral choices are not Freedon Lovers "Left" versus Freedom Lovers "Right"? What if your choices are Socialists who will wreck the country, versus Islamo-Fascists? Police goons who forget to get a warrant before they kick in the door, versus Psycho-Killers?
Well, you must be in Algeria.
And the answer is simple.
If the Psycho-Killers slit thousands of innocent, Muslim, throats per year outside the government, what can we extrapolate will be their behavior once they have all the institutions of state power at their disposal? What will they do with Algeria's nascent nuclear program?
Having seen what a bin Laden can do from his cave at the end of the earth, what could another one do with a modern country, an oil industry, and nuclear labs?
Sometimes the lesser of evils is the only rational choice.
It is human nature that we have to re-learn the same lessons over and over. Centrally controlled economies do not work, they lead to misery, and misery leads to the alienation and radicalization of the citizenry. Police state repression can hold the forces of chaos at bay for a time, but if it is not combined with a simultaneous liberalization of the productive economy, and if a steady and orderly transition to democracy is not pursued, the destructive forces only build and become stronger.
Algeria is now faced with the need to open its economy, which means attracting investment into a country that is a killing zone. It must open its political system to moderate voices of various political leanings in a time in which moderates are being terrorized and killed by the fundamentalists. And to have a hope of making any of this work, Algeria must eliminate the psycho-killers, root and branch.
But the "fundamentalists" are determined and unafraid, and well proven to stop at nothing as they vie for addition to our "to-do" list.
War & Peace in the Real World
Page Two Page One
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
U.S. National Security Strategy
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
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Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
POLITICAL EDUCATION, CONSERVATIVE ANALYSIS
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