Daniel Pipes is a voice to be heeded. He has been covering and studying radical Islam for most of his life.
In brief, elections are bringing to power the most deadly enemies of the West. What went wrong? Why has a democratic prescription that's proven successful in Germany, Japan and other formerly bellicose nations not worked in the Middle East?
It's not Islam or some cultural factor that accounts for this difference; rather, it is the fact that ideological enemies in the Middle East have not yet been defeated. Democratization took place in Germany, Japan, and the Soviet Union after their populations had endured the
totalitarian crucible. By 1945 and 1991, they recognized what disasters fascism and communism had brought them, and were primed to try a different path.
That's not the case in the Middle East, where a totalitarian temptation remains powerfully in place. Muslims across the region – with the singular and important exception of Iran – are drawn to the Islamist program with its slogan that "Islam is the solution." That was the case from Iran in 1979 to Algeria in 1992 to Turkey in 2002 to the Palestinian Authority this week.
This pattern has several implications for Western governments:
Slow down:Take heed that an impatience to move the Middle East to democracy is consistently backfiring by bringing our most deadly enemies to power.
Settle in for the long run: However worthy the democratic goal, it will take decades to accomplish.
Defeat radical Islam: Only when Muslims see that this is a route doomed to failure will they be open to alternatives.
Appreciate stability: Stability must not be an end in itself, but its absence likely leads to anarchy and radicalization.
Returning to the dilemma posed by the Hamas victory, Western capitals need to show Palestinians that – like Germans electing Hitler in 1933 – they have made a decision gravely unacceptable to civilized opinion. The Hamas-led Palestinian Authority must be isolated and rejected at every turn, thereby encouraging Palestinians to see the error of their ways.