08 June 2005

Vote early, vote often


And vote in pencil so we can correct mistakes.

In the wake of Hezbollah's pro-Syrian coalition's sweep in southern Lebanon, Kos asks what the "wingers" will do if the "wrong" people win elections in the Middle East.

I don't think we need to wonder; the case of Algeria tells us. When it became clear that the Islamic Salvation Front was winning an overwhelming electoral vistory, the military, in a move supported by the US, stepped in and took over. The resulting struggle cost over 100,000 lives, and the country is only recently returning to something approaching normalcy.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez is another example. He has won two elections, and survived a recall election. Although he has certainly made what Americans would consider anti-democratic moves, he remains the elected leader of the country and enjoys wide popular support, except among the elite. And for this, there was a coup attempt against him, in which the US may have had a hand.

And let's not forget Chile, Iran, and possibly Haiti.

I think it's clear that the US will simply do their best to overturn election results it doesn't like. This is no way to support democracy. The US should support democratic process and recognize duly elected leaders, no matter how repugnant they seem to us. And the US should also make clear that such support will continue so long as human rights are respected, and free and fair elections, in which the will of the people is expressed, are regularly held.

But that habit of meddling in other's affairs will, I fear, prove hard to break.