2005 December 28 Wednesday
Press Not Free In Democratic Afghanistan

In Afghanistan never suggest that converts from Islam to another religion should not be killed.

KABUL, Afghanistan -- When Ali Mohaqeq Nasab returned to Afghanistan last year after a long exile, he thought the atmosphere had opened up enough to raise questions about women's rights and the justice system in his country's nascent democracy.

But the magazine publisher's provocative essays put him at the mercy of that system. He was imprisoned on blasphemy charges and facing possible execution until his release last week.

After refusing for three months to retract his comments, Nasab told an appeals court last week that he was sorry for writing stories that asserted women should be given equal status to men in court, that questioned the use of harsh physical punishments for crimes, and suggested that converts from Islam should not face execution.

Wait a second. We overthrew the Taliban (which was a good thing to do). We helped the Afghanis hold elections. They've got an elected government. So why don't they have freedom of the press? How come democracy does not liberalise their society? Democracy isn't a panacea? Illiberal illiterate peasants will elect an illiberal repressive theocratic government? Democracy just becomes rule by the tribal leaders of the illiterate repressive illiberal masses who embrace a religion that is very hostile to non-believers? Sure looks that way to me.

A month or two ago Sri Lanka held an election and I remember reading predictions then by some analysts that the election of a hardliner as President was sure to encourage the Tamils to intensify their rebellion. Those predictions were correct. The democratic election of Mahinda Rajapakse as President of Sri Lanka appears to have catalyzed an intensification of the Sri Lankan civil war.

All told, 45 Sri Lankan soldiers, sailors and police officers have died in December alone, ratcheting up fears of a full-scale retaliation by the Sri Lankan military and a resumption of a two-decade-long civil war. Grenade and land-mine attacks against the military have become routine fare in the Tamil-majority areas under government control, as have targeted assassinations.

And yet, on paper, the 2002 cease-fire agreement, monitored by Norway, still holds. "It's going from bad to worse," said Erik Solheim, Norway's minister of international development, in a telephone interview on Tuesday night. "It's very worrying. It's a kind of shadow war."

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's newly elected president, Mahinda Rajapakse, prepared to meet with India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh, here in the Indian capital on Wednesday. Mr. Rajapakse has suggested that he wants New Delhi to play a greater role in the peace talks, an idea that India is unlikely to embrace readily.

Of course, a certain country back in 1860 had an election that touched off a war that killed half a million people out of a total population of about 20 million. That's more dead than have died in all that country's foreign wars combined.

Democracy is not a panacea.

I want to compile a list of all the countries that have had civil wars or coups or dictatorships started as a result of reactions to elections. Anyone who knows of good examples please post in the comments.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 December 28 10:55 PM  Chaotic Regions


Comments
John S Bolton said at December 29, 2005 3:18 AM:

In 1975, a leftist election victory in Portugal gave huge impetus to rebel movements in the Portuguese empire, which, within months, broke up into its constituents. The resulting civil wars in Angola, Mozambique, Timor and Guinea kiled millions. If by reaction to elections, is meant also that in which coup plotters sense an opportunity, almost every country in Africa has had that reaction, and has fallen under dictatorship not long after its first elections at the time of independence. Haiti has had several reactions to elections which required intervention. Duration of democracy after independence could be very highly correlated with the average IQ of a country.

John S Bolton said at December 29, 2005 5:16 AM:

Fiji in 1987 is a clearcut case of an election leading directly to a coup. The native Fijians lost an election, having become 46% of the population. The interracial harmony of Fiji had been celebrated only a year earlier by the pope, who called it a "symbol of hope for the world". Indigenous Fijians rioted against Indians, and the military marched into the parliament, ousting the elected Indian government.

Steve Sailer said at December 29, 2005 12:20 PM:

Spain, 1936. A leftist coalition won, and almosst instantly hardliners within the left began burning churches, while the army began mobilizing for civil war.

Bob Badour said at December 29, 2005 1:59 PM:

Elections:
April 10, 1932
July 31, 1932
November 6, 1932
January 15, 1933
March 5, 1933

Results:
January 30, 1933 -- Adolf Hitler Appointed Chancellor of Germany
March 23, 1933 -- Democracy in Germany voted out of existence

We all know the rest.

How many elections have they had in Iraq now?

Bob Badour said at December 29, 2005 2:00 PM:

Elections:
April 10, 1932
July 31, 1932
November 6, 1932
January 15, 1933
March 5, 1933

Results:
January 30, 1933 -- Adolf Hitler Appointed Chancellor of Germany
March 23, 1933 -- Democracy in Germany voted out of existence

We all know the rest.

How many elections have they had in Iraq now?

John S Bolton said at December 29, 2005 6:23 PM:

Germany could not have avoided having elections in those years. France however, could have avoided calling the Estates-General in 1789, which might have avoided 25 years of revolution, civil war and large-scale war. France never recovered its position of dominance, after the results of that election.

Bob Badour said at December 30, 2005 2:10 PM:

Years? I guess the number changed from April 1932 to March 1933, but I call less than 11 months 'year' not years.


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