Saturday, October 22, 2011

Supporting Democracy is the Foreign Policy Aim That Does Not Come Back to Bite Us

I think the one reliable pillar of a centrist foreign policy for the United States is to support democracy.

This means supporting democracy even when people we don't like get elected. Our long-term interests are best served by supporting democracy as a framework, which is the best help and hope we can give to the factions that will, when elected, support us.

This means we do not support dictators even if they are, temporarily, the enemies of our enemies.

This means we do not make war simply for our own economic interests. That is actually more craven than supporting dictators against other dictators. War for profit reaps us justified opposition all over the world.

This means we do not invade other countries on our own, ever. Sometimes armed intervention is necessary in an emergency to prevent genocide or repel aggression. That is what the UN or NATO or our other security alliances are for. When we invade on our own, colonialism follows almost every time.

And this means that sometimes we can't do enough to support democrats in other countries. There are limits to the power of even the world's greatest superpower. But we should keep pressing diplomatically for democracy in the most oppressive places.

Most of the world's people like the American people. They like our culture. If the doors were wide open, we would have 100 million immigrants, I expect, as fast as transport could be arranged.

When the United States supports democracy in their countries, we justify that good feeling and earn legitimate admiration. When we base our foreign policy on the realipolitik of the Great Game against this year's enemy, or, worse, on what is profitable to U.S.-based multinational corporations, we undermine that good feeling and destroy that admiration.

Finally, when we do support dictators, or do make war for profit, it comes back to bite us. Every time.


Herman said...

What about those one term democracies?

gruntled said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gruntled said...

Every case is different, so if you have particulars in mind, I could speak to that more specifically. In general, though, I think we could keep most fragile democracies from going under quickly if we were unequivocally supportive of the democratic process there, no matter who got elected.

Herman said...

What if a group like a group like the Muslim Brotherhood gets elected for example? Only one election happens.

gruntled said...

I am hopeful about the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. After years of sporadic oppression, they created a functioning social service operation, and the core of a party structure. They are ready to compete in a free election because they think they can win.

All of their talk so far has been that they are committed to democracy. I think they are likely to become a regular party. In fact, I think the second or third party of Egyptian politics is probably going to be a splinter from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Anonymous said...

Do you consider Sharia law a form of democracy?

gruntled said...

Sharia law could be adapted to democracy. It is a varied tradition, just like Roman law or canon law. If it were adopted democratically, it could also adapted democratically.