Saturday, March 12, 2005

Column: Democracy and the Noahide Laws

I have been meaning for some time to write about why I think, for spiritual reasons, President Bush and MK Natan Sharansky are right about the power of democracy. Even before events quickly sweeping the Middle East started making reluctant cynics rethink their positions, I have been wanting to address the spiritual question as to why democracy resonates in the hearts of all men -- a presupposition of the founding fathers and the basis of American democracy.

The answer that I have is perhaps a surprisingly Jewish one.

Constitutional Democracy is simply the best available vehicle for the fulfillment of the Noahide Law -- given to all the nations by the Almighty -- to set up fair courts of law, this being the only of the 7 Noahide Laws that touches on questions of government and the governed. From this Law it can be understood that in the hearts of all men there is indeed a built in disdain for tyranny and injustice -- and so I argue an innate attraction to a form of government designed to undermine tyranny and promote justice -- the very purpose of the American Constitution.

I don't want to dwell on this subject here because it is a long one and one article is not sufficient to deal with it completely but I wanted to look quickly upon that subject as the world stands surprised and bewildered at the successes of George W. Bush and say that I think there is a sound Jewish basis for the plan and an overlooked, as far as I have been able to find, spiritual argument for its success.

Perhaps, I have also thought, this argument provides the positive spiritual element for American democracy that is lacking in its Hobbes and Locke based defensive posture against tyranny -- a lack that has sent many a youth searching for meaning in the false promises of charlatans and tyrants who promise all good things in return for great powers to rule -- but enough of all this for now.

Last week, as the revolution in Lebanon was just hitting the press, and I was writing my column, I found an early reaction posted by Michael Ledeen on National Review Online's blog "The Corner" and quoted liberally from it. I also mentioned that his post would, he promised, be followed up by a column on the subject of the "Cedar Revolution" and that I was not going to miss it for the insight it might provide into what direction the Bush administration would chart after the surprise.

One of the most interesting paragraphs in that article that appeared the following day and which can be found in the archives at NRO, is the following:
"Our most lethal weapon against the tyrants is freedom, and it is now spreading on the wings of democratic revolution. It would be tragic if we backed off now, when revolution is gathering momentum for a glorious victory. We must be unyielding in our demand that the peoples of the Middle East design their own polities, and elect their own leaders. The first step, as it has been in both Afghanistan and Iraq, is a national referendum to choose the form of government. In Iran, the people should be asked if they want an Islamic republic. In Syria, if they want a Baathist state. In Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Libya, if they want more of the same. We should not be deterred by the cynics who warn that freedom will make things worse, because the ignorant masses will opt for the fantasmagorical caliphate of the increasingly irrelevant Osama bin Laden. Mubarak and Qadaffi and Assad and Khamenei are arresting democrats, not Islamists, and the women of Saudi Arabia are not likely to demand to remain shrouded for the rest of their lives."

This is the essence of Ledeen's call for not quitting and pushing forward until the whole region has been changed and terror has been wiped out. I would expect that that is the course that Bush will take, giving Europe and the Left all the time they need to adjust after the fact.

Going back to the spiritual element that I covered earlier, I guess it is my hope that it adds something to the argument for pursuing the War on Terror until it is completely and totally won -- in a way that Clausewitz would appreciate.

It is also my hope, and my growing belief, that the antidemocratic Sharon will see his government fall when the budget comes to vote in two weeks. His tyrannical bulldozing ahead with his "disengagement" plan has put him clearly on the wrong side of history and I would be surprised if the courage that is spreading in this region with the spread of democracy doesn't dethrone him very soon.


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