Wednesday, December 01, 2004

# Posted 3:09 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

EVIL AMERICANS CONSPIRE TO PROMOTE DEMOCRACY: Bob McGrew points to this bizarre column in The Guardian that attributes unrest in the Ukraine to an American master plan.

Dan Drezner has lots more on this subject. I agree with him that the US has played an important role in building up Ukrainian, Georgian and Serbian opposition movements, but that America has played the role of facilitator rather than puppet master. If the peoples of Eastern Europe didn't actually want democracy, there is no way America could get them to pour into the streets to protest on democracy's behalf.

Matt Yglesias adds the valid point that one fair election doth not a democracy make. But then he makes the rather strange point that
Realpolitik plays a large role in explaining the level of Western interest in and commit[ment] to reform in Ukraine...[because] democracy-promotion and mild nationalism have proven to be an effective tool for advancing American and Western European interests [in Eastern Europe] over the past 25 years
I can only imagine what Matt would have said if George Bush had decided to pander to his good friend Vladimir Putin by ignoring Ukraine instead of supporting its democratic opposition. It seems to me that the application of realist principles to Ukraine would result in a policy of doing as little as possible to offend Russia, our supposedly valuable great power ally in the War on Terror.

Which is not to say that supporting democracy in the Ukraine damages our national interest. Rather, there are many different conceptions of the national interest, each of which entails a different set of policy initiatives. A Wilsonian idealist sees democracy promotion as the foundation of national security. A Kissingerian realist would disagree.

As I have so often found in my research on democracy promotion during the Cold War, the critical question for the United States is not whether there is a conflict between democracy promotion and the national interest, but whether we define the national interest in a way that is conducive to democracy promotion.

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