Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The CHUTZPAH to Believe in Representative Democracy

In the wake of yesterday's rant over our obsession with universalist ideals that can only lead to irreconcilable differences and destroy any pragmatic hope of getting things done, I was pleased to see that at least British Foreign Secretary David Miliband prefers getting things done to getting stuck in ideological mud. Consider the beginning of a report that Al Jazeera English compiled from their wire sources:

Britain's foreign secretary has suggested that senior Taliban figures be given positions in the Afghan government to bring an end to the violence in the country.

At a meeting of Nato's parliamentary assembly in Edinburgh, Scotland on Tuesday, David Miliband said that history suggested many Taliban members could be persuaded to stop fighting.

Miliband said the Afghan government would need to reach out to "high-level commanders that can be persuaded to renounce al-Qaeda and pursue their goals peacefully".

"This will be far from straightforward. But the historical lessons are clear," he said.

"Blood enemies from the Soviet period and the civil war now work together in government. Former Talibs already sit in the parliament.

"It is essential that, when the time is right, members of the current insurgency are
encouraged to follow suit," he said.

In the midst of all the current hand-writing over corruption in an Afghan government that, for all intents and purposes, was installed by the United States as part of the War on Terror, here is someone with the chutzpah (I suppose the British would prefer to call it "temerity") to suggest that, if we want to spread our love of democracy to Afghanistan, then we should not impede their forming a government that would be truly representative. He also made his case with an appeal to history, which, as far as I can tell, is a concept that remains alien to prevailing American culture. This is a gesture that is almost guaranteed to induce considerable aggravation in Washington, which makes it perfect for the Chutzpah of the Week award!

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