Thursday, 26 February 2009

Promoting democracy?

In the IHT last monday, Obama rethinks the goal of democracy-building:
His Inaugural Address a few days later was in sharp contrast to Bush’s four years ago. Where Bush called the spread of freedom the central goal of American policy, Obama made just passing reference to those who silence dissent being on “the wrong side of history.” Indeed, his secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, outlined a policy of the “Three D’s” - defense, diplomacy and development. The fourth D, democracy, did not make the list.

And if that were not clear, during her trip to Asia, she said that human rights violations by China “can’t interfere” with cooperation between Washington and Beijing on other issues. That may simply be a more honest statement of longstanding reality in the Chinese-American relationship, but it still seemed jarring.
Galrahn at Information Dissemination, also last monday, Hilary Channels Thomas Barnett. And Thomas Barnett on his own blog, Being real on China. The meat is in the comments in both those posts.

(My previous posts on TPM Barnett start here.)

Meanwhile farther north, via the comments at Terry’s place, Full-Steam Ahead on Spreading Democracy, an interview with Steven Fletcher, Canadian minister of state for democratic reform:
“I think Canada is a civilized member of the world community and this is the time that we should step up and show leadership that we care about what happens in the rest of the world, we want people to be empowered, to make the best decisions for themselves and nations to be empowered to make the best decisions for their people who live within their borders.

“And democracy is the best way to do it and Canada will do more than its fair share to empower the individuals, and therefore their governments, to ensure that the people of these countries, their quality of life is improved. And I think most Canadians would be very impassioned about this. Is there stuff to do at home? Of course, but home is also the planet Earth.”
Turning back to the article in the IHT for a closing quote:
William Inboden, a former strategic adviser at the National Security Council now at the Legatum Institute in London, said [...] Obama has the chance to rebrand democracy. His own election generated enormous good will around the world, an “incredibly profound and incredibly potent” statement about American democracy, Inboden said. And so, he said, “there’s real opportunity there.”
While I have respect for TPM Barnett’s thesis that economic interconnectivity promotes security, I believe democracy is still essential. Economic development without democratically accountable rule of law is too vulnerable to corruption and worse.

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