Phi Beta Cons

Agresto on the Pitfalls of Hope

John Agresto is the author of Mugged by Reality: The Liberation of Iraq and the Failure of Good Intentions, and the Interim Provost of the New American University of Iraq in Sulaimani. Regarding the great difficulties in establishing democracy in countries such as Iraq, he solemnly warns “the hopeful ones,” i.e.:

The hopeful on the right who think if we can just get democracy straight in the Middle East all will yet be well, and the hopeful on the left who put their money on “negotiation,” greater communication, and mutual understanding.

Agresto admonishes those on the right who, in facilely promoting democracy in places where tribal, religious, political and personal differences dominate, endanger America, as we are now confronted by “the growth of Islamic fundamentalism as a mass, popular, democratic movement. Thus, the more we promote ‘democracy,’ the more we might well be promoting elected extreme Islamist governments worldwide.”
As for multicultural leftists, and in particular academics, he excoriates them for their simplistic accusations of “ugly ethnocentrism” whenever confronted by the often hateful reality of the “culture of honor and retribution” in the Middle East.
We need more such nuanced thinking about the dangers that face us, including the blinding politics of hope.

Candace de Russy is a nationally recognized expert on education and cultural issues.

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