It is very easy to blame George Bush or Obama for the current ills in the Middle East, however, to sound a contrarian note, I think ultimately the problem is with the nature of the democratic system itself and how it is fundamentally incoherent.
To avoid disputes as to what is a “true” democracy (a rather time wasting endeavour to pin down a constantly gerrymandered term), I shall simply define a democracy where policies are determined by short term electoral processes.
Immediately on the face of it, this is patently absurd. No policy of any macro-significance on a national scale can be carried through if it is subjected to four or five yearly disruptions. A policy may require a decade, even an entire generation to carry out. Policies may have consequences and effects which we may only be able to see ten years down the road. You’re not talking about deciding the fine of a parking ticket, you’re talking about policies aimed at influencing inter-generational phenomena which may take years, if not decades, to implement.
Whatever we think of Bush’s invasion of Iraq, the fact is that once it is done, he must see it through. As I noted before, you either leave the powers that be in the region alone, or if you overthrow the powers that be there, you better march in and imperiously stabilise the region and paternalistically impose your own order.
The problem of course is that imperialism is a task which requires decades to see through. American democracy is like a spoilt child who demands a pet and then tires of it after a few weeks and abandons it on the road side. First they cheer the invasion of Iraq, and after uprooting the only stable and coherent order there they got tired of it rapidly and want to abandon it. Unfortunately they have a short term periodic electoral system which precisely permit them to indulge in their childish irresponsibility.
Like it or not, Obama was elected on a peace and heal the world platform. That is what the American people wanted. And what they will get now is an ISIS.
This is my fundamental reason for preferring a monarchy. You must have rulers who have the power to enforce and implement far-sighted policies over generations if not for a lifetime. They cannot possibly be constantly deterred by every whim and start by a fickle populace. In place of a monarchy I would be happy to settle for a republican dictatorship, something very much like what we have here in Singapore. To quote once more our Elder Statesman on this:
I ignore polling as a method of government. I think that shows a certain weakness of mind – an inability to chart a course whichever way the wind blows, whichever way the media encourages the people to go, you follow. If you can’t force or are unwilling to force your people to follow you, with or without threats, you are not a leader.
-SM Lee Kuan Yew, Success Stories, 2002
You can watch more great speeches from him here: