Realists v. Neocons
Monday, November 27, 2006
Stanley Kurtz of National Review makes an important point about our focus on democratization.
I think it's dangerous to pose American foreign policy as a choice between neocons and realists. That's because the neocons are right about the dangers of nuclear proliferation, but wrong, I believe, about the advisability of rapid democratization. My fear is that the failure of rapid democratization will seem to validate the realists entirely, when in fact it is only realist skepticism about rapid democratization that has been borne out, not realist faith in our ability to contain and deter a newly nuclearized Middle East.
I wish things had gone much better in Iraq, but they haven't. Even having seen some of the worst parts of the crappiest planet I have ever lived on first hand, I still believe that there is a basic instinct to prefer freedom to oppression. But there is a beaten dog aspect to the people in Iraq, and they have been unable to rise to the opportunity we have offered them. Oh they have a democracy, just like the Palestinians, but it has done them little good. There were opponents of invading Iraq who claimed Arab Muslims were incapable of democratic government, and there is little if any evidence to disprove this. I think the truth is that Islam makes it very difficult to have democracy when god has a veto over any earthly pronouncements.
I'm not ready to say that our democracy-building enterprise has failed yet, W gets two more years regardless of the cackling from Capitol Hill. But it certainly has not succeeded and we need to look carefully at that as we eyeball the huge problems on either side of Iraq.