Thursday, March 31, 2005

# Posted 12:30 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE MAGNIFICENCE OF THE LIBERAL HAWK IMAGINATION: I don't like the term 'liberal hawk', but the individuals to which it refers happen to share almost all of my ideas about my American foreign policy. So therefore, I have no choice but to praise Noam Scheiber's hope that the Democratic party will wake up to the importance of democracy promotion. Noam argues that
By embracing a robust democratization agenda, the Democratic nominee in 2008 will be able to appeal to his [her? --ed.] base while also claiming the new, pro-democratization center. The Republican nominee, who has to win the nomination of a party at best indifferent to democratization, will enjoy no such luxury.
The premise of this argument, of course, is that the Democratic base cares about democracy promotion. Rather than respond to this premise in detail, I refer you to Reihan Salam, who shares both Noam's hope and OxBlog's doubts. One amazing fact Reihan cited was that
When asked
“Should the United States try to change a dictatorship to a democracy where it can, or should the United States stay out of other countries' affairs?”
in a CBS/NYT poll (2/24-28/05), 51 percent of Republicans said we should “try to change.” The number for Democrats? It was 13 percent.
Wow. Let me say that again: Wow. I've got to track down that poll and double-check the results. Although I tend to agree with Noam that "latte-sipping liberals" have a greater interest in global do-gooderism than most conservatives, I wonder if the latte-sipping set is any more in touch with the Democratic base than the neo-cons were with the Republican base circa 1999.

[NB: Even if I someday become more conservative than Pat Buchanan, I will never break off my love affair with latte. In other words, I would become a cappucino conservative.]

As Noam points out, much of the Democrats' current distaste for democracy promotion is simply the result of a partisan reflex that identifies the party as being against anything that Bush is for. But if the Democratic commitment to democracy promotion is that volatile, can it really become a focal point for the 2008 campaign?

Moreover, what if Bush becomes the author of a historic realignment in which the GOP becomes the party of democracy promotion? Reagan's soaring rhetoric inspired numerous Republicans to get serious about democracy promotion, even Democrats dismissed it as hypocritical.

Yet Reagan's inability to distance himself from right-wing dictatorships compromised his rhetoric in a devastating manner. I would speculate that the GOP's turn inward in the 1990s had a lot to do with the inconsistent and hesitant nature of Reagan's commitment to democracy promotion in practice.

In contrast to Reagan, Bush has a sterling record on the democracy front. One can always point to Musharraf or one of the Central Asian dictators as an example of Bush's hypocrisy. But Bush has no contras, no Salvadoran colonels and no Ferdinand Marcos. Abu Ghraib is minor by comparison. If Bush can facilitate the consolidation of democratic triumphs in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority, his legacy will match his rhetoric.

What I hope, of course, is that the United States will have two parties committed democracy promotion. This is an interest and an ideal that transcends party lines. Or at least it should.
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