As much as I appreciate Steve Cook’s attempt to dispel the notion that the Lebanon conflict invalidates democracy promotion, he seems to equate simple democracy with liberal democracy:
[P]articipating in a free and fair election does not necessarily imply that an organization is democratic. While Hamas and Hezbollah may have embraced the procedures of democracy, there is no evidence that they have embraced the rule of law, the rights of women and minorities, political and religious tolerance, and alternation of power.
Well, yes, but that doesn’t make Palestine or Lebanon non-democracies. It makes them illiberal democracies. What was effective about democracy promotion in Eastern Europe in the late ’80s and early ’90s was that liberal institutions were established along with democratic processes. That hasn’t happened in the Middle East, and that’s one of the many reasons that Bush’s gunboat democratization effort has been ineffective.