Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Bush Doctrine and Illiberal Democracy

In a "Foreign Affairs" essay several years ago, Fareed Zakaria identified a rising trend whereby democratically elected governments routinely deprived citizens of basic rights and liberties. Democracy, Zakaria said, was increasingly "producing centralized regimes, the erosion of liberty, ethnic competition, conflict, and war." Gee, sounds like a Middle Eastern country that shall remain nameless.

In his zeal to rid the world of evil, Mr. Bush has given us the "Bush Doctrine," which formalized as policy the notion of "pre-emptive war." According to the "National Security Strategy of the United States of America," pre-emptive military strikes could be justified if the US or its allies were threatened by "terrorists" or by "rogue states" that are engaged in the production of "weapons of mass destruction."

Since there were neither terrorists nor WMDs in Iraq, one must conclude that imposing “democratic values” at the point of a bayonet is another component of the Bush Doctrine. (For one egregious and outrageous defense of such nonsense, read this essay posted on Alan Keyes' website. Despicable!) Speaking at 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."

In an earlier speech, the president said, "With the power and resources given to us, the United States seeks to bring peace where there is conflict, hope where there is suffering, and liberty where there is tyranny."

Wow, sounds like we are going be busy.

But what will the consequences of worshipping at the democratist altar be to American strategic interests? Here I think Zakaria's discussion of illiberal democracy comes into play. If one examines the Middle East with any care, I'm not certain numerous Jeffersonians will rush to the fore.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom indicated that Abbas should prevent Hamas from participating in upcoming parliamentary elections or, failing that, delay the vote to give the Palestinian Authority more time to "persuade" voters to reject the group's candidates. Recent elections in various Palestinian municipalities demonstrated the popularity of Hamas. Likewise, candidates supported by conservative clerics swept local elections in Saudi Arabia. One wonders if Wahabbi clerics and Hamas leaders will produce their own version of the "Federalist Papers" in the near future.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, the original laboratory for the twin Bush Doctrines of pre-emption and democratism, the country is on the brink of civil war and rife with ethnic and religious strife.

Pat Lang, the former top Middle East intelligence official at the Pentagon, said "It's just political rhetoric to say we are not in a civil war. We've been in a civil war for a long time." Indeed, even moderate Sunnis now see little hope in cooperating with the "democratically elected" Shiite regime. Ethnic and religious lines are beginning to harden, and American troops are caught in the crossfire.

"I believe democracy can take hold in parts of the world that have been condemned to tyranny," said Mr. Bush, in an interview just prior to his inauguration. "And I believe when democracies take hold, it leads to peace. That's been the proven example around the world. Democracies equal peace."

"Gentleman may cry peace, peace, but there is no peace." Indeed, the Bush Doctrine has spawned perpetual "multi-generational" war in the name of perpetual peace.

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