• Arts
  • August 1, 2007
  • 2 minutes read

Drop What You’re Doing and Read This

Ok. Go read this. Now. It”s that good. No, actually, it”s better. So rarely do I read a piece on democracy promotion that I agree with 85-100%. This is one of them (at about 90%). Either that says a lot about me, or a lot about Ms. Slaughter. Take your pick. Anyway, here”s the part I particularly liked a lot:
A sensible strategy of supporting democracy around the world, then, would recognize the long-term and complex nature of the task. It would support liberal democracy and governments with institutions that are accountable to their citizens. It would support parties of any religion and any ideology as long as they are committed to the democratic process, recognize the rights of the opposition and bind themselves internationally to recognizing minority rights and the individual rights of all citizens, and upholding independent courts and honest government. Such a strategy also would recognize that American security is best assured by a world of liberal democracies not because the governments of those countries like or agree with the United States – plenty of European, Latin American and Asian liberal democratic governments oppose American policies – but because the processes that elected those governments and the institutions that keep them honest are the best antidote to extremism, violence and sustained injustice.
Is there really any alternative? Would the newfound adherents of a foreign policy based only on securing U.S. interests really like to return to an era characterized by the apocryphal quote: “He may be a son-of-a-bitch but he”s our son-of-a-bitch”? (The quote has been attributed variously to Cordell Hull, speaking about the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo, and to Franklin Roosevelt, referring to the Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza Garc?a.) Isn”t that the policy that has landed America exactly where it is today in so much of the Islamic world, with vast majorities of young people hating the United States, in part because America is seen as a key supporter of the governments that oppress them?