Forcing Democracy

I keep hearing variants of this argument I received in email recently

it is arrogant and Pollyanna to think that we can just go forcing it on countries that are not ready or do not want it. At some point the people have to stand up and take it for themselves without help.

Countries don’t have preferences. People have preferences. The way you ascertain those preferences is via free speech and elections.

It is certainly arrogant for dictators to force their rule on subject populations too weak to resist them, but they do so nonetheless.

It is therefore morally appropriate for us to protect the weak from such oppression. It is also incredibly ironic for pro-welfare state people to make arguments such as the one I quoted. They respond very differently when people say that the poor should help themselves rather than rely on government handouts.

Josh and others argue that the cost of protecting the weak is too high in the case of Iraq. However, it is difficult to maintain this stand and simultaneously argue that we went into Iraq out of self interest rather than morality e.g. for the oil.

And, by the way, if morality and self-interest are aligned, so much the better.

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5 Responses to Forcing Democracy

  1. hey alex says:

    i think we went to war for a combination of reasons.

    1) political expediency
    2) religious belief
    3) israel
    4) control over energy resources

    and not in that order. ‘iraqi freedom’ is a smokescreen erected by both you and condi rice after your ‘would you risk a mushroom cloud in manhattan’ bullshit was proved hilariously incorrect.

    you never, not once, mentioned the welfare of the iraqi people when you were sabre-rattling in 2002-3. not once. you asked me if i was willing to risk my life to let saddam stay in power. so don’t you dare keep hiding behind that shibboleth.

  2. Josh, your memory is faulty about both my reasons and the official reasons of the Bush adminsitration. Here is Bush from the 2003 SotU:

    “””
    And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country — your enemy is ruling your country. (Applause.) And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation. (Applause.)
    “””

    If you look in the archive of our email and conversation, you will find extensive discussion of the freedom/humanrights issue. You refused to discuss it so we moved on to other topics.

  3. hey alex says:

    alex, if you think i trust the words that come out of our president’s mouth as a reliable source, you haven’t been listening.

    and you have not answered my challenge about the mushroom cloud remark. just say the following: ‘I WAS WRONG’.

  4. So I guess you are going to use your psychic powers to determine Bush’s motivations for action. Its not like the neocons had not put out extensive literature about draining the swamps and creating democracy to address the root causes of terrorism. Its not like Wolfowitz wasn’t the architect of democracy promotion in Latin America in the 1980’s.

    As far as your mushroom cloud remark, I answered it a while ago:
    http://www.alexjacobson.com/archives/2005_01.html#000187

  5. ooghe says:

    just out of curiosity, I’ve been wondering how you feel about the administration’s approach to the peace process these days? Dr. Rice seems more engaged on this issue than her predecessor- presumably, of course, now that Arafat has died.

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