Historian David Fromkin - author of one of the Big Books of our times - dismisses George Bush's view of the link between terrorism and the lack of democracy in the Middle East:

Young people, goes this line of thinking, grow up frustrated in such societies, having no legitimate outlets for their demands; so by overturning the despotisms we can eliminate "the conditions that feed radicalism and ideologies of murder." It is a plausible theory, and even a persuasive one.

On the other hand, it is refuted by Western history. In the 1960's and 1970's, terrorism became rampant - one thinks of the Red Brigades, the Baader-Meinhof gang and the Weathermen - in Italy, Germany and the United States, all of them free countries. Democracy, if it is a cure for terrorism, is at least not an
infallible one.

Well, maybe not infallible. But I'm not convinced that you compare those terror sects to the jihadists. (Was it Bernard Lewis who once said that having Wahhabis running Saudi Arabia is like handing over Texas to the Ku Klux Klan?) It's an argument worth pondering, however, even for those of us who are on the side of the optimists.

|||Clive|||http://clivedavis.blogspot.com/2005/03/re-building-region-historian-david.html|||3/24/2005 11:24:00 am|||||||||