There are many things to write about on Bahrain, and almost all of them funnel down to something very basic, the things we don’t see in democracy. This week’s article will be short and basic because I am offered an opportunity to go more into detail on this topic in a renowned publication. So my extra time away from my job, family, and sports will be mostly invested in attempting to complete an article on this subject.
Here’s the thing, we have a saying in Arabic that goes “The ape is a deer in his mother’s eyes.” Have you ever been so excited about a certain purchase? When buying a car you may ignore the responsibilities behind keeping it. For example, you want it so much and overlook the fact that you will pay a large amount of installment for the next five years, need to clean it every couple of days or so, need to keep it insured, registered, serviced, tires changed, and many other vital responsibilities. Well, this is exactly what I’m seeing today in Bahrain, GCC, the Middle East, and the rest of the developing world.
I once had a side talk with one of the most rational friends I have. I asked him, “wouldn’t it be wonderful if you wake up one day and find out that someone gifted you a Ferrari?”
He said, “Are you crazy! Do you know how expensive it is to maintain such a car? I’d spend more than what I’m making just to keep it alive!”
Then it hit me. He was right. In order for you to own a Ferrari, you have to have what it takes to maintain having a Ferrari. Do we have what it takes to maintain a democracy in this part of the world? The short answer is, No. Yes you do have dignity, the will, and perhaps the brains to maintain a democracy, but those things take a back seat for the most important pillar for a democracy.
What is it? It’s the economy, and I’m not going to say stupid after it (For those who know what I’m talking about). If you have an eye for it, you’ll notice that democracies have a shorter-term economic plan relative to autocracies. This statement is not up for argument or discussion because it has been proven scientifically. This is because of the nature of the election cycle. Those who are elected for office tend to favor immediate gains in order to insure their success in the upcoming elections rather than focus on long-term gain, which may not guarantee them a place in the next government formation.
However, in some autocracies, (those who favor growth and success) they tend to invest for the future. As you know, investments usually take a dip for a while and returns come a bit later. (Google J-curve)
But that’s not the issue and there’s nothing wrong with it if it is yielding. However, the difference between democracy in the developed and developing world is that, well, their developed and we’re not. Today, you can very clearly see that future projects that require a lot of patience and investments are the brainchild of unelected governments and not elected officials.
On the other hand, you can notice clearly that elected officials in countries with non-renewable resources are not preparing us for when time comes where our oil wells dry up. We cannot afford feeding our economies this way, and we need to first catch up with the rest of the world before hitting the cruise button.
I’ve lived for many years in America, and have studied and read a lot about the science of politics. Coming back to Bahrain, the thing that was most visible to me was that people are falling into ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ phenomenon. Most of my friends in America would love to come live in Bahrain because of what this country offers, and many over here would love to live in America because of what it offers.
Where’s the best place to live? I’d say, every country in the world has something to offer, and we need to carefully push away what’s keeping us behind while adapting to what will push us forward.
In America, I know that many frustrated people are fed up with the way governance is handled. For example, the republican nominees for the next presidential elections are criticizing Obama’s way of dealing with the national debt, yet their proposed economic packages are much worse than Obama’s. They need to deal with that.
In Bahrain, and the larger Middle East, people are frustrated with some officials who lack the skills that revolutionize their organizations into a world-class entity. People need faster services and more coordinated work at all levels. For example, the private sector needs a good umbrella to work under, not a torn one, if it exists at all.
Each country needs to set its preferences accordingly, and democracy, however important it is, shouldn’t be the top preference without regards to time and development status.
Notice, I haven’t even dove into theocratic rules. That’s probably next week.