The myth of Islamist democracy.

Opinions about events beyond our borders.
July 16 2004 4:43 PM

The Myth of Islamist Democracy

America needn't apologize for its missionary zeal.

(Continued from Page 1)

Chirac is not defending Arabs, only his position as a dear friend and frontman of those Arab rulers who have no wish to reform their governments. Maybe democracy can't be imposed, but democratic and liberal reforms certainly can.

As Slate contributor Michael Young wrote in Lebanon's Daily Star, the Greater Middle East Initiative "saw Arab reform as a Western national security requirement." As Sept. 11 showed, failed societies affect the lives of ordinary Americans. The idea behind the GMEI was that if Arab states functioned better and gave citizens a voice in their own political processes and a chance to advance their economic interests, fewer Arab young men will want to fly planes into U.S. buildings. The idea is no less rational now, and there's no reason to apologize for our missionary zeal, especially when, as Qaradawi complains, Washington-sponsored educational reforms "want to omit all teachings about jihad." That is precisely the point.


Reform-minded Arabs are counting on the United States to drive this agenda. We've heard from so many sources how the Arab world likes Americans, just not U.S. policies, that perhaps we should be wondering what it is Arabs really like about us. Our pop music and action movies? Our willingness to spend lots of money on vacation? The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry?

The policies of the American government are largely derived from the ideas of the American people. And, frankly, there's nothing very special about Americans except for our ideas. If they should happen to clash with the political adventurism of Jacques Chirac or the bloody opinions of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, all the better.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 2:36 PM This Court Erred The Supreme Court has almost always sided with the wealthy, the privileged, and the powerful, a new book argues.
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 30 2014 1:23 PM What Can Linguistics Tell Us About Writing Better? An Interview with Steven Pinker.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.