Friday, May 18, 2007

Yet More on Debates

Debate is a continuing theme this week. Dimitri Simes commented on the lack of it among the U.S. political establishment with regard to foreign policy in yesterday’s International Herald Tribune. Then, with an appropriate hat tip to the readers of TWR, I read the report over at The Washington Note on how the chairman of the Michigan Republican Party wants to exclude Congressman Ron Paul from the debate of likely presidential hopefuls because of his views on domestic but even more his positions on foreign policy.

That would be a mistake. Republicans do need a vigorous debate on how and why an earthshaking shift has taken place in their perceptions of foreign policy. I asked a senior member of the Republican foreign policy establishment recently how exactly the position had shifted—I had noted, in my review of Nixon and Mao for the May 21, 2007 issue of The American Conservative, that “As late as 1985, Irving Kristol could declare in the first issue of The National Interest that the task of American foreign policy was not to make the world ‘safe for democracy’ but to create conditions ‘so that the nations of the world can have the opportunity to realize whatever potential for popular government and economic prosperity they may possess or come to possess.’”

In the past, the United States could forge together under the rubric of “the Free world” a hodge-podge of regimes—free-market democracies, socialist democracies, monarchies, and various types of authoritarian governments—but all sharing a common purpose. We used to think of democracy promotion as creating conditions for democracy to evolve in other societies rather than something to be exported and imposed. And as our beliefs have changed, though, so have the challenges to our ability to exercise leadership. Now, of course, Washington is finding it much harder to construct and maintain an overarching coalition in the Middle East (as well as other parts of the world). And do we think that the continued existence of monarchies, theocracies and even dictatorships elsewhere in the world de-legitimizes our own republican form of governance?

I would think we should be debating these questions much more than we are.

A very important point. Based on the 1985 Kristol standard, then, post-Soviet Russia, authoritarian and problematic as it is, is nonetheless a major improvement on the USSR and would be recognized as such, instead of re-demonized in order to pave the way for a useless new cold war.

Why have conservatives changed is an important question. In the 1980s conservatives defended the importance of slow, evolutionary changes in places like East Asia and Latin America while it was the liberals jumping on every human rights violation of the hour. Now it seems some reversal has taken place.
Conservatives have changed because they thrive on having enemies, so they can constantly call on the Nation to spend her blood and treasure in ways they like.

Hence the requirement to stir up a Cold War with Russia.

And don't think this is the first Cold War with Russia they've stirred up.
Attacking soveriegn nations unprovoked, based on a festering litany of deceptions, hype, and patent lies, slaughters tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of that nations civilians, spitting in the face of the entire world, ghoulishly exploiting the dead and the horrors of 9/11 for partisan political and economic gain, recklessly wasting and squandering the blood of America's soldiers and billions of dollars of the peoples treasure, and profiteering wantonly in and from the nefarious process fascism, tyranny, and the work of a totalitarian dictatorship, - NOT DEMOCRACY!!!!!

When will any of you socalled experts dare to find the courage to define this thing called democracy? Your craven silence is shattering! Because when and if anyone - ANYONE finds the courage and the integrity to actually define this thing called democracy - the proof and terrible reality will be exposed to the hot light of truth - that the Bush governments fascist perversion and betrayal of democracy deceptively pimped and ghoulishly propogated by the fascist and pathological liars in the Bush government is actually tyranny, totalitarianism, colonialism, supremacy, and wanton profiteering - NOT DEMOCRACY!!!!!
Nick, a real change over the last number of years is the rise of "constituencies" in every country for U.S. style democracy.

Let me use an analogy. You can find Catholics (or Muslims) in every country of the world. Yet it would be a stretch to then argue that because one can find Danish Catholics, Lebanese Catholics, Nigerian Catholics, Indian Catholics, etc.--that each of these countries should be a Catholic country. It would also then be risky to describe them as being representative of their particular country. And yes, Catholics see themselves as a universal faith applicable to all peoples--but I don't think they have launched any new crusades at least not since Vatican II!
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