by CHARLES ISSAWI
IT HAS BECOME commonplace that the parliamentary-democratic 1 form of government has not functioned satisfactorily in the Middle East. During the last few years, a series of coups d'état have proclaimed, in no uncertain terms, the dissatisfaction of several countries with their parliamentary governments, and in more than one country the army has taken over power.
The failure of democracy in the Middle East has been attributed to widely divergent, though not necessarily incompatible, causes. One explanation, which is current in the West, is that democracy is a plant of slow growth, which gradually developed, over several centuries, in the congenial climate of Europe and North America and which could not possibly be expected to thrive when suddenly transplanted to an alien Eastern soil which, since the dawn of recorded history, had bred nothing but the thorns and thistles of despotism. The absence of democratic traditions, and of the historical customs, habits, and attitudes required to make democracy work, was one of____________________