January 19, 2005

Read, as they say, the whole thing...

An article in Arab News by Amir Taheri, Algerian Lessons for Iraq, is very pertinent right now. Algeria has (but is defeating) a terrorist movement even more nihilist and evil than the one in Iraq. They once cut the throats of 800 people, many of them women and children, in one night! (If President Bush offered our help fight them, I'm sure Michael Moore and the sludge-for-brains wing of the Democrat Party would start calling them "freedom fighters.")

...Visiting Algiers in March 1994 I was struck by the mood of doom and gloom at almost every level of government. European ambassadors confided their fear that the terrorists might seize power at any time. A segment of the elite was urging negotiations with the terrorists, which meant discussing terms of surrender.

After a long moment of tergiversation in which the Algerian leaders did not know quite how to deal with the threat, they stumbled on a strategy almost by instinct....
They soon realized that the terrorists lacked a significant popular base. But it was also clear that a majority of Algerians had adopted a wait-and-see attitude, hating the terrorists in secret but too frightened of them to make a clear stand against them in public. The key, therefore, was to mobilize the “silent majority” to demonstrate the isolation of the terrorists.

The most effective way to do that was to hold elections. Few people are prepared to die, and even fewer are willing to kill in support of their political opinions. But almost everyone is ready to vote. The task of a civilized society is to render the expression of political opinions easy. The terrorists made it difficult because they demanded of the people to kill and died. The Algerian leaders decided to make it easy by asking the people to vote.

The turning point came in 1995 when Algeria organized its first ever pluralist and direct presidential election. This is was not an ideal election. The candidates were little known figures that had appeared on the national political scene just a couple of years earlier. None presented a coherent political program. To make matters worse the terrorists did all they could to prevent the election. They burned down voter registration bureaus and murdered election officers. Masked men visited people in their homes and shops to warn that going to the polls would mean death.

And, yet, when polling day came it quickly became clear that the terrorists, in the forlorn attempt at stopping democracy, were, as in so many other instances in history, facing certain defeat. Never in my many years of journalism had I seen such enthusiasm for an electoral exercise anywhere in the world. The “silent majority” spoke by casting ballots, not because it particularly liked any of the candidates but because it wanted to send a message to the terrorists that they had no place in Algeria...(thanks to
Powerline and Bill Roggio)
Posted by John Weidner at January 19, 2005 8:24 AM
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