Wednesday, September 22, 2004

The world is marching toward democracy.

Losing Argument:

“The democratic hopes we see growing in the Middle East are growing everywhere.” – President Bush, Address to the UN General Assembly, 9/22/04

Why it's a loser:

Bush’s policy of expanding global democracy focuses on turning autocratic countries into democracies, but does not work on ensuring that fragile semi-democracies become stronger. His speech on the National Endowment of Democracy in 2003, mentions the challenges of North Korea, Iraq, and Cuba, but makes no mention of Russia. In his address to the UN yesterday, Bush again made no reference to Putin’s tightening of presidential power. Putin used Beslan to propose further “reforms” in the war on terrorism – increased media censorship, control over non-governmental organizations, and the replacement of elected officials with presidential appointees. But, as Strobe Talbott, President of the Brookings Institution, notes, “It is too simple to call what is happening in Russia today a return to dictatorship. Putin's firm-hand policies are popular, they have an electoral and parliamentary mandate.” If Bush continues to turn a blind eye toward Putin’s grab for increased centralized power, we may have more democracies, but they might not be what he had in mind. To continue the advance of freedom, Bush needs to pay attention to the slipping countries, not just the “evil” ones. (White House, BBC, Washington Post, Buffalo News)