Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The Democratic Ideal

Click here for AmazonImmediately after President Bush's inaugural speech, the intelligensia on both sides of the aisle mocked the concept of spreading democracy as a basis for national policy. Noonan, Helprin and Buckley, among others, chided the President for an "unworkable" vision.

Joshua Muravchik of Opinion Journal deftly slices their arguments to pieces like an Olympic fencer. How does he do it? The best way to crush poor theses. By marshalling facts.

In 1776, there was exactly one country in the world with an elected government: the United States of America. 230 years later, there are 117 - or more than 60% of the world's governments.

...This historic transformation in the norms of governance has not occurred at a steady pace. Rather, it has accelerated. Just over 30 years ago, the proportion of democracies was about half of what it is today...

Muravchik points to "waves"; periods of time in which democracy accelerates, then pauses and starts again. Further, this tidal effect strengthens itself. As more democracies arise, the remaining authoritarian governments find it more difficult to retain power.

Only one region of the world has, so far, been left behind: the Middle East and North Africa (Israel is the the sole democracy among 18 states).

...In the wake of 9/11, President Bush concluded that it was no accident that this region where democracy was uniquely absent was the epicenter of global terrorism, and it was here that he launched his campaign for freedom, of which last week's speech was a broader statement...

His handiwork is crystal clear, except to the moonbats. Afghanistan, the Palestinian Authority, and -- within days -- Iraq will all have held elections.

Further, Bush's evangelism has heartened freedom-lovers and propelled the cause of liberty in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Oman, where municipal or national elections have been or are slated to be held. And the wafting fragrance of freedom hasn't stopped at the ballot box either.

...Egypt's first independent daily newspaper was launched last year. In May, a new network, Democracy Television, owned and run by Arab liberals, will begin broadcasting to the region by satellite from London. Almost every month a new statement demanding democratic reform is issued by Arab intellectuals...

The "realists" warn that democracy is no panacea for terrorism. But the record shows that democractic governments seldom sow either conflict or terror.

Read the whole thing. And watch the "realists" squirm.

Joshua Muravchik: The Democratic Ideal

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