Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Democracy Promotion Debate

For those who didn't already see it, my colleague Paul Saunders engaged in an online debate with Mort Halperin about democracy promotion and U.S. foreign policy for the Council on Foreign Relations website.

A critical point Paul raised:
The real question of democracy promotion in U.S. foreign policy is not whether—the answer is yes—but when, how, and at what cost, both in absolute terms and relative to our other international priorities. ... A majority of Americans understand these trade-offs: A recent poll (PDF) by the Program on International Policy Attitudes found that 54 percent believed that "as a rule, U.S. foreign policy should pursue U.S. interests, which sometimes means promoting democracy and sometimes means supporting non-democratic governments."

One point, going to look at the larger debate, is the whole smoke and mirrors over defining democracies and democratizing states. It seems Halperin in particular wants to categorize the states that don't fit his success model as nondemocratic.

Is Russia democratic? Is Georgia? Is Venezuela? Is India? There seems to be a whole democracy continuum, not easily divided camps.
I would like to add that US is not a democracy; it is a representative republic. Moreover, its legislative branch is not operating on basis of party politics but committee politics.

Additionally, one has to recall that the War of 1812, the US-Mexican War, the Civil War, and WWI were all wars of "democracies" against one another. I specially would like to point out that the Austro-Hungarian Empire was a democracy.

And then, who would believe US anyway: US has been complicit in the overthrow of popularly elected governments in South Korea, South Vietnam, Cambodia, Iran, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, and Chile.

Any way, US cannot afford to pursue that type of policy; it actually cost too much money that US does not have. This talk is all academic.
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