Democracy and American Foreign Policy
I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
When running for the presidency in 2000, candidate George Bush repudiated the triumphalist chatter of the Clintonians, with their incessant braying about our being the "indispensable nation." Mr. Bush said, "Let us have an American Foreign policy that reflects American character. The modesty of true strength. The humility of real greatness. This is the strong heart of America. And this will be the spirit of my administration."
During a presidential debate with Albert Gore, Bush echoed this sentiment once again when he said, “One way for us to end up being viewed as the ugly American if for us to go around the world saying, we do it this way, so should you...The United State must be humble...humble in how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own course.”
My, how things have changed. In the post-9/11 Orwellian nightmare that is our "new reality," Mr. Bush has done a one-eighty and wants to remake the world in the idolatrous image of 21st century “democratic” America. In his inaugural address, Mr. Bush said, "it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."
The charge to end “tyranny in our world” is a Wilsonian call to drag the US into a never-ending series of wars to make the world “safe for democracy,” for Mr. Bush now worships the golden calf of democracy. Leading up the inauguration, he said, “I believe democracy can take hold in parts of the world that have been condemned to tyranny. And I believe when democracies take hold, it leads to peace. That's been the proven example around the world. Democracies equal peace.”
Democratist ideologues claim that non-democratic states are incubators of terror. But what really is the cause and purpose of terrorism? Terror is not a new tactic by any means, and it is a weapon of the weak wielded against foreign occupation, perceived or real.
Terror has been an instrument used by Zionist ideologues to run the British out of Palestine and has been employed by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nelson Mandela in South Africa. The terror of Khomeini's Revolutionary Guards terror was largely a reaction to perceived American hegemony in Iran. Hizbollah turned to terror after the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and its subsequent occupation. The FLN used terror to drive the French from Algeria. To this brief litany could be added many other examples, including Islamic terror in Chechnya and Kashmir.
Looking objectively at the Middle East, and I am no expert on the matter, it would appear that terror springs from disorganized states (Lebanon, Afghanistan and current Iraq) and is not broadly practiced by stable authoritarian regimes like Syria and Iraq under Hussein. Yes, they may have employed terror occasionally for their own purposes, but large-scale independent and international terror movements have not sprung from those regimes.
Moreover, small-scale terror movements are not unknown in democratic states. Italy, Germany, Spain, and Ireland have seen homegrown terrorism. Even in the United States there was an anarchist movement in the late 19th and early 20th century. An anarchist assassinated William McKinley, and attempts were made on the lives of both TR and FDR. During the 1950’s Puerto Rican nationalists shot-up Congress and tried to kill Harry Truman. During the 1960’s and 1970’s loopy left-wing wannabe anarchists like the Weathermen set off bombs on college campuses across America. During the 1990s we saw one major terror incident in Oklahoma City and sporadic bombings by the Unabomber, and terror continues to be employed be environmentalist and animal-rights wackos. In short, terror is a weapon of the weak to achieve desired ends, whether those ends are legitimate or not.
It also isn’t clear that if democracy means the will of the majority, that American interests will be advanced by democratization. When pro-western monarchs were undermined in the Middle East, Nasser, Gadhafi, Saddam and the Ayatollah Khomeini replaced them. Before going blindly down the democratist path, perhaps we should ask whether Bin-Laden or Bush is more popular in Riyadh, Islamabad, Cairo, Amman, and Damascus. We may not like the answer.
So if waging war on behalf of democracy is not the answer, what is? A foreign policy based on realism and the wisdom of our ancestors. I would make a few simple and brief suggestions:
1) First, do no harm. The U. S. should be diplomatically, and in limited circumstances militarily, protecting Christian, or even quasi-Christian, peoples who face threats from Isalmists. Of course, U. S. foreign policy has taken exactly the opposite tack for over a decade. NATO and American intervention in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Albania on behalf of drug-running Islamists was strategically stupid and morally bankrupt. Every terrorist incident of recent vintage has some connection to Bosnian Muslims.
Likewise, we have a strategic interest in developing closer ties with the Russians, who are dealing with Chechen terrorists themselves. Instead of strengthening that relationship, however, we have foolishly expanded NATO, meddled in the Ukrainian elections, etc., giving credence to Russian fears of American encirclement.
2) Prevent a potential fifth column by restricting immigration. Unfortunately, neither "conservatives," represented by Mr. Bush, nor liberals have the political will to seal the border.
3) Play one sect of Muslims against another. As in Christendom, Islam is divided. Our aim ought to be encouraging that division and helping to foster secularist governments that are willing to protect Christians from persecution.
In Iraq, we have toppled a secular regime that largely protected the rights of Christians and are seeking to replace it with a "democratic" regime which will almost certainly enforce Islamic Law and forge closer relations with Iran--the true Islamic power in the region.
On the eve of the invasion, Pat Buchanan prophetically predicted that, "Just as Israel’s invasion of Lebanon ignited a guerrilla war that drove her bloodied army out after 18 years, a U.S. army in Baghdad will ignite calls for jihad from Morocco to Malaysia" and unite the Islamic world against us.
Clearly, our unflinching support of Israel is another factor uniting all Muslims against American interests. Neoconservatives claim that we have an ideological interest in supporting Israel, which they maintain is broadly part of “the West,” and is thusly an extension of our ideals. Many conservative Christians will also reject any change in policies impacting Israel for theological reasons, or simply out of percieved kinship with the people of the land where Christ walked. Nonetheless, it is clear that our relationship with Israel, or more particularly the one-sided nature of that relationship, is a strategic problem which must either be addressed or lived with.
It is also necessary to recognize that while Islamism is a global problem, militant Islam is largely a regional phenomenon (as long as the West protects itself with stringent immigration restrictions) and there are natural barriers (i.e., India, China, and Russia) to its expansion. Even states such as Saudi Arabia and Iran have an interest in seeing these radicals expunged.
In short, the goal must be to contain radical Islam in the same way that Communism was contained--keeping it in a box militarily, but more importantly, defeating it with a better idea. That idea, by the way, is not democratism or capitalism, but Christianity.