The Realism of Helping People Cast off Their Chains

[First published March 16, 2005] When President Bush calls for “fostering democracy,” one should read this phrase as “helping a people cast off the chains the bind and the fear that paralyzes them.” The difference between tyranny and liberal democracy is that in the former people are in chains, in effect prisoners of the whims and desires of the thugs that rule, and in fear over what might happen or be done to them – metaphorically, the 3am knock on the door.

One should keep this firmly in mind when coming across the assertion that we should not “export democracy.” It’s like saying that we should not export freedom to the victims of a kidnapping. After all, countries like North Korea, Syria, Iran, Libya, Burma, Sudan, and many others, are ruled by thugs, or their survivors, who took over by the force of arms, and threaten with death those who actively oppose them. Their people have been kidnapped.

So much in politics depends on the viewpoint and use of language. And regarding spreading democracy, lets get this right. Lives and welfare depend on it. And so does ending war and democide, the moral fruits of successfully globalizing democratic freedom.


Link of Note

”Democracy Is Now the Realistic Policy“ By Victor Davis Hanson. Published in HYPERLINK “http://www.taemag.com/issues/current_issue.asp”Democracy Breaks Out in the Middle East, April/May 2005

From Colleague: Largely through your work — and that of the other DPers [those working on the democratic peace] — it has become increasingly obvious that democracy has certain consequences in world politics. Why the “realists” are so obtuse about this, refusing to acknowledge reality itself, is curious and disconcerting. What else have they been oblivious about? I wonder what the bozos at Hoover who are so dismissive of the democratic peace are saying now….

The recognition that Democracy matters, and that its promotion is realistic and a long time coming, this article by Victor Davis Hanson sums things up nicely, and is a recommended link for your blog. Hanson says:

The foreign policy Realists want nothing to do with George Bush’s idealism. They rely exclusively on deterrence and balance of power to adjudicate relations abroad: We must deal with the world as it is, they say, rather than as we think it should be. Isolationists likewise bristle at the idea of expending blood or treasure in an open-ended commitment to spread our values. And don’t expect liberals to applaud the new idealism, as if their 1960s vision of an ethical foreign policy has at last arrived. The Left’s attachment to “multiculturalism” long ago ended the idea that the U.S. had any right to place Western ideas of politics over indigenous practices. Other “progressives” are de facto pacifists; for them, any use of U.S. force is a betrayal of global diplomacy. . . .

And while promoting democracy is idealistic, it does not necessarily follow that it is naive. What, after all, prevents wars? Hardly the U.N.; and not just aircraft carriers either. The last half-century of peace in Europe and Japan, and the end of our old enmity of Russia, attest that the widest spread of democratic rule is the best guarantee against international aggression. Ballots substitute for bullets in venting internal frustrations.

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