The Kenya Massacre: Why We Need One Global Democracy

04/06/2015 10:46 am ET | Updated Jun 06, 2015

One hundred fourty-seven students were massacred in Kenya two days ago. The Times says:

The attack on Thursday exposed just how powerless this industrialized, westernized country is in the face of a ruthless terrorist organization.

Here's an abbreviated description of the killings on Thursday, from Agence France-Presse:

Piles of bodies and pools of blood running down the corridors: survivors of the Kenya university massacre described how laughing gunmen taunted their victims amid scenes of total carnage...

"I have seen many things, but nothing like that," said [an aid worker].

"There were bodies everywhere in execution lines, we saw people whose heads had been blown off, bullet wounds everywhere, it was a grisly mess."

These students died horrible deaths, in part because their national government could not protect them.

A similar point, about the incapacity of governments in the developing world to protect their people, was made by David Brooks about a year ago, in a column titled "The Republic of Fear," highlighting a book called The Locust Effect. Brooks wrote:

People in many parts of the world simply live beyond the apparatus of law and order. The District of Columbia spends about $850 per person per year on police. In Bangladesh, the government spends less than $1.50 per person per year on police. The cops are just not there...

[Authors] Haugen and Boutros tell the story of an 8-year-old Peruvian girl named Yuri whose body was found in the street one morning, her skull crushed in, her legs wrapped in cables and her underwear at her ankles. The evidence pointed to a member of one of the richer families in the town, so the police and prosecutors destroyed the evidence. Her clothing went missing. A sperm sample that could have identified the perpetrator was thrown out. A bloody mattress was sliced down by a third, so that the blood stained spot could be discarded.

Yuri's family wanted to find the killer, but they couldn't afford to pay the prosecutor, so nothing was done. The family sold all their livestock to hire lawyers, who took the money but abandoned the case. These sorts of events are utterly typical -- the products of legal systems that range from the arbitrary to the Kafkaesque.

We in the affluent world live on one side of a great global threshold... But people without our inherited institutions live on the other side of the threshold and have a different reality... Their world is governed... more by raw fear...

The primary problem of politics is not creating growth. It's creating order.

Agree or disagree about "law and order" here in the United States; it certainly has its dark side.

But people everywhere, worldwide, deserve a basic level of security that only the rule of law can provide.

The old, discredited answer to this problem is colonialism. Almost always, colonial powers justified their exploitive rule from afar by pointing to indigenous incapacity to secure order. Of course, colonialism failed, bankrupting the colonizers and typically leaving Hobbesian chaos in its wake. Today, violence across the Middle East and in Africa is its legacy.

What we need instead is rule of law in which everyone has a voice and a stake. Yes, everyone, worldwide.


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