The enduring appeal of authoritarianism.

Opinions about events beyond our borders.
Nov. 22 2006 1:33 PM

Freedom From Fear Trumps the Freedom To Vote

Why it's so hard to establish democracy in countries like Russia and Iraq.

(Continued from Page 1)

Authoritarians are much better than democrats at quickly bringing order in such a frightening environment. This is mainly because it is easier and more efficient to impose martial law than to build political consensus. The volatility of democratic transitions creates demand for authoritarianism. If a country has more experience with dictators than with democrats, this demand may be second nature.

This is essentially what has happened in Russia and in warlord-dominated Afghanistan, and the United States may quickly find itself forced to support an authoritarian regime in Iraq to prevent the country from becoming either an Iranian satellite or an al-Qaida training camp.

Advertisement

In the end, this option might not be as unsavory as it sounds. Before Iraq can become a democracy, it must become a country safe enough for open political debate. As so many have argued, the violence in Iraq requires a political, not a military, solution. And as Bismarck once said, politics is the art of the possible.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 23 2014 6:00 AM Naked and Afraid Prudie offers advice on whether a young boy should sleep in the same room with his nude grandfather.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Books
Sept. 23 2014 7:14 AM Fighting the Sophomore Slump, Five Novels at a Time Announcing the Slate/Whiting Second Novel List.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 7:00 AM I Stand with Emma Watson
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.