Jul 26, 2006

Exporting Democracy [LINK]

A response to a Mencken admirer:

Comparing George Bush's shortcomings to those of Woodrow Wilson, Ronald Newburgh is right to question America's ability to export its democratic impulse to Iraq. Still, he ignores those cases in which non-Western countries successfully adopted democratic institutions contrary to values entrenched in their culture.

Today India has a strong democracy, largely due to the imposition of British imperialism. Up until 60 years ago, the Japanese were not even allowed to gaze upon their emperor, but now they have a thriving democracy, thanks to American occupying forces.

It's easy to condemn both Bush and Wilson for "hubris and ignorance," but much harder to understand why we don't say the same of Truman and MacArthur, who upheld much the same policy.

I'd add that while Wilson failed to create institutions that would lead to peace in Europe, following WWII everyone realized how prophetic his efforts had been.

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