Thoughts by Nassim Yaziji
These are some thoughts of mine gathered from several academic exchanges:
The scientific quality of political science
I want to point out that the political phenomenon needs, after identifying it, to make sense a conceptual frame or approach applied by the watcher (the political scientist) which will consequently formulate the sense of the phenomenon. This applies to the all natural phenomena, especially in physics where this question is more clearer. Therefore, in the pursuit to find out about the rules and laws of these phenomena and the generalizations in the social sciences the abstraction is essential. For doing so, the mathematical representation is the primary means but it is significantly restricted with respect to the complex social systems including the political sphere. To handle this situation, means was invented and the methodology became indispensable.
That is to say that making conclusions from empirical studies of wide range in time and place, as the raw material to be the world in some centuries, is something doubtful and in question. To deal with that, in my view, we have to be more specialized in pursuit to minimize the complex social system in study. The more our study targets a wide scope (more complex system) the more our findings go to be probabilities rather than conclusions. Another tool we need is the simplification, which is a conventional scientific rule. For example, it could be said, that the trans-borders dangers (terror) associated with values and ideas imply the violence should be countered by trans-borders policy associated with values and ideas imply peacefulness and compromise like the democracy promotion policy. The elaboration including details and tactics are the consequent steps if the primary thinking was adopted.
Democratization and peace
I do think that the democracy per se is a stabilizing system through embedding the peaceful means, strengthening freedom, isolating political violence and providing advanced political structures of governance, compromise and public rights and obligations. The electoral process is a technique serving the representation question in legislating and governing. Without a sustainable and institutionalized integrated system of political rights and responsibilities, public freedoms, political accountability and transparency -- all guaranteed by the rule of law -- the essential electoral process in the democratic system would be just an adapted technique to be integrated into a political system, Russia and Iran for example. I would never call the semi-authoritarian or the "liberalized authoritarian" systems, or whatever, a democracy.
The transitional period between the authoritarianism and democracy could not have the same features in the different times, places, settings and surrounding environments considering the international input and the regional setting. Furthermore, we need to consider the superiority to the state as a polity over the shape of the governance system. Therefore, I refuse the generalization in predicting the war trends in the transitional periods. To me, the free people choose life and prosperity.
Political System and Peacefulness
I frequently face this problem that many western researchers, who did not ever experience the authoritarian system, cannot recognize many facts on it. The totalitarianism is a system based on violence, in which the violence becomes the real and dominant value, which with time turns into an integrated system and becomes a culture. This value, practically, forms and constructs the whole institutions of the state and society (those become one entity identified by/with the political power) because it is only the cause of maintaining the existence of the state (power) at the inside and outside level and ultimately becomes the source of legitimacy.
Hence, it is familiar that only the totalitarian regimes support and encourage the transnational terror and eagerly pursuit the WMD and other violent means in the international politics. On the contrary, in democracies the system of compromise and peaceful means replaces the system of violence. The violence in democracies – more precisely the coercion -- is only usable to maintain and keep the system itself at the domestic and international level.
The totalitarian regime makes its foreign policy on the considerations of his interior policy. It is a matter of fact and necessity that the interior and foreign policies should be consistent because they represent and belong to the same decision-making system, values and interests, and intend to maintain those, which are the intrinsic structure of the regime in power. Moreover, the authoritarian regime is totally aware of the indispensability of the compatible foreign context for the sustainability of its rule.
Balance of Power and the International Stability and Security
I endorse the realist theory of the international relations about the balance of power. In maintaining systems, especially at the international level, what matters is the balance of power but at the status quo level not the dynamic one because any change or new player would change the whole equation. It is indispensable to identify the powers on the scene and to define the system to be maintained. Do the totalitarian terrorist regimes and organizations in the Middle East, like Iran's and the Ba'ath party, perceive the international stability as the U.S. or EU besides the international community? And is the international realm the same after 9/11?
The transnational terror, which is a new international trans-border power in the realistic sense, needs a new balance of power to restore the international stability and peace. The counter trans-border power is promoting freedom and democracy to isolate and alter its nourishing environment and consequently destroy it in addition to the terror's political supporters (always totalitarians and authoritarians) through international effort, and that what is supposed to be the international system of stability and peace.
Can authoritarianism maintain peace?
On the "peace of cold war," I can say that the calm is something different from peace. What peace we can talk about where the Soviet Union is occupying many countries in Europe and Asia and maintaining this occupation with every violent means possible. Is that of the international peace? The calm between the two super powers is not the international peace. Besides, that system because of its structural distortion and defects could not be sustained and finally came to breakdown, which might be catastrophic. As what was happened to the balances of 19th century until the semi-peace at end of the world war ΙΙ and the European democratic peace nowadays. The freedom and democracy have key importance in the evolution and the dynamics of the international comprehensive systems towards more peace, stability and prosperity.
Totalitarianism and Terror
The totalitarianism constitutes one system. The totalitarianism has one nature in many aspects and shapes; it pragmatically develops a reciprocal structure and unified means under a consistent code of conduct—all rest on violence. Apart from ideologies, religious or not, the problem has one name, one identity and one essence; it is the totalitarianism. A comprehensive reading of the current state of the region between the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf will clarify and support this thinking.
The totalitarian dictatorships and terrorists are in an alliance of convenience. Although they have two different ideologies and agendas, they have mutual basic interest and pursuit is to keep freedom and democracy along with their culture out of this region.
Saddam had known this fact early and began soon after his defeat in the gulf war ΙΙ the Islamization of the state notwithstanding the official totalitarian secular ideology of al-Ba'ath. Moreover, he had a chance of about 12 years to do that without serious pressure targeting directly his regime to end his rule or to change the course. Finally, that produced an extraordinary fertile environment to terror. May history teach us? Given it frequently repeats itself.
To achieve peace, security and prosperity in the Middle East, there must be, first, a serious course of action aimed at the totalitarianism in the Middle East. This course of action is indispensable first step in the long march of democracy there. Moreover, targeting totalitarianism is an indispensable action in the war on terror to get the terrorists isolated with no cover or facilities or nourishing sources.