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Monday, October 24, 2005

Bush-Pushed Democracy

This is an interesting column by Jackson Diehl addressing the upcoming elections in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. The Bush administration does seem serious about pushing for democratic reform around the world wherever it can. Jackson Diehl writes of the Bush administration's talks with those in power, discusses the possibility that the elections (judged by the OCSE) will be found to have been unfair, and ends:
Nazarbayev and Aliyev may want to please Bush, but they are also terrified that they will be victims of a "color revolution," the popular pro-democracy revolts that have ousted authoritarian regimes in three other post-Soviet states in the past two years, in each case after an election the OSCE called unfair. Their opponents are openly modeling themselves after the youth groups and political coalitions that called people to the streets of Tbilisi in Georgia and Kiev in Ukraine. Their Russian friends, trying to restore Moscow's influence, are suggesting that Washington's real goal is another revolution. When he held a press conference in Azerbaijan last week, Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried was immediately asked if he was not "the gray cardinal of the color revolutions."

In fact the last thing the administration wants is turmoil in another Muslim oil state. It is hoping that a combination of proffered carrots and fear of the consequences of fraud will cause Aliyev and Nazarbayev to reform just enough that they can be embraced as democratic allies. But time is running out quickly; what if one or both of the regimes are flunked by the OSCE? "You have to mean what you say, which means we have to be prepared to be disappointed," one official told me. And if people then take to the streets to call for democracy, as they have elsewhere? For now, the administration isn't saying what it does then.
Common Dreams can and will rant on about its concerns about "American imperialism", but when "imperialism" consists of insisting that rigged elections aren't good enough, their claims ring hollow. Once again, we see that the "progressive" hatred of "American imperialism" seems to be a cover for an abject fawning on dictators and repressive governments. The progressive movement seems dominated by Marxists, so it is hardly surprising that they can't tell the difference between dictators and more representative forms of government.

Even the sloppy, addled, "give peace a chance" wing of the Democrats suffers from this. As Molly Ivins writes in a frankly hilarious column:
One of the many problems created by the invasion of Iraq is that it took our eyes off fighting terrorism and dragged us into this endless struggle between the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. We're supposed to be fighting terrorism, and the single most useful tool for that purpose is international cooperation.

The go-it-alone, forgeteverybody-else Bush foreign policy will require serious repair work. We need a beefed-up State Department and a new emphasis on human rights, complete with an acknowledgement of our errors in this regard. We also need beefed-up intelligence — tracking terrorists and their money, their plans and their people requires good intelligence work and good detective work.
I don't think Molly set out to become a major accidental humorist of our day, but she has accomplished that. I do enjoy the light relief. I can just imagine a Molly of the 1930s writing earnest columns recommending working with the progressive new regimes in Germany and Italy. There is a real difference between international cooperation with regimes that are trying to be efficient dictatorships and international cooperation with regimes who would like to improve human rights or are trying to reform without falling into chaos.

Some international cooperation, such as the big-dog US trying to put some oomph behind the OSCE's (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) judgement on the election process, will probably foster long-term strengthening of the world's reforming regimes and human rights. Other types, such as clapping for Mugabe and Chavez, seems unlikely to do anything but facilitate human rights abuses. How can that not be clear?


Comments:
Your point is well taken- there is a huge difference "between international cooperation with regimes that are trying to be efficient dictatorships and international cooperation with regimes who would like to improve human rights or are trying to reform without falling into chaos."

In any event, the left offers no real program or ideology for emerging nations that embrace western ideals- in fact, they remain hostile to the very idea that nations might adopt an agendfa of freedom.

From Mugabe to Chavez and Castro, to African regimes, the left has made it clear who and what agendas they support.
 
Well - there are at least two camps. The left is not a cohesive entity any more than the right.

But it is weird!
 
It's so muddled now that you can't tell if it's just wishing failure for Bush or if they really and truly feel that way.

I'm afraid more and more that is how they feel.
 
That is how some of them feel. They make no bones about it.
 
I believe that most left-leaning people are forced into the position of supporting tyrants not because they're closet totalitarians themselves (though the people who organize and speak at protest rallies certainly are), but because at the moment there is no credible leftist alternative to the neo-liberalism that is the currently reigning philosophy governing third-world development. So they know that they don't support the IMF and World Bank programs, but since the collapse of Communism they have nothing else to offer, no alternative ideas on how to help developing nations.

It's a shame on so many levels, because neoliberalism has many shortcomings that could and should be addressed by a credible leftist critique. But instead of offering solutions, their current ideological bankruptcy just forces them to embrace "rebels" like Castro, Chavez, and Mugabe -- and who cares about who's starving who and who's been in power for 46 years without a single vote?
 
That's a good point, Pedro.

Still, I can't see it as being "forced". After all, one can espouse many different political ideologies without being a dictator or violating human rights. Maybe not communism, but certainly many different ideologies.

I think the problem is that half of them are theoretical communists (wouldn't want to live under communism, but sure like the sound of it), and that has caused the support for communism.
 
Yeah, maybe "forced" isn't the right word. Maybe "pigeonholed" or "trapped by their own empty rhetoric."

Or maybe even, "incapable of articulating any alternatives because the public school system in this country left them without the historical perspective necessary to make moral judgments of this sort."

Maybe if non-totalitarians and non-Communists got together we could establish some alternative international organizations that put democracy and openness above the lip-service non-judgmentalism that emboldens dictators and makes elites feel sophisticated and enlightened.
 
Pedro, I'm going with "incapable of articulating any alternatives because the public school system in this country left them without the historical perspective necessary to make moral judgments of this sort."

Seriously, that is half the problem. People are incredibly ignorant of history nowdays.
 
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