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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why 'democracy' is a dirty word

In Wednesday's Boston Globe, columnist Jeff Jacoby explains that 'democracy' has become a dirty word in the Obama White House. According to Jeff and others, that's why the Obama administration has been so 'low key' in identifying with the revolutionaries in Iran (Hat Tip: NY Nana).

With whom should America stand - the bloody tyranny or the people opposing it? For most Americans the question answers itself, which is why both houses of Congress voted all but unanimously last week to condemn the Iranian government and support the protesters’ embrace of human rights, civil liberties, and the rule of law.

So why was President Obama’s response initially so ambivalent? Why was he more interested in preserving “dialogue’’ with Iran’s dictatorial rulers than in providing moral support for their freedom-seeking subjects? Why did it take him until yesterday to declare that Americans are “appalled and outraged’’ by Iran’s crackdown and to “strongly condemn’’ the vicious attacks on peaceful dissenters?

A disconcerting answer to those questions appears in the new issue of Commentary, where Johns Hopkins University scholar Joshua Muravchik isolates the most striking feature of the young Obama administration’s foreign policy: “its indifference to the issues of human rights and democracy.’’

In an essay titled “The Abandonment of Democracy,’’ Muravchik - the author, most recently, of “The Next Founders: Voices of Democracy in the Middle East’’ - observes that every president since Jimmy Carter has made the advancement of democracy and human rights one of his foreign-policy objectives. Now, he writes, “this tradition has been ruptured by the Obama administration.’’

Jeff offers a brief explanation for why Obama is so down on democracy:
Obama may see himself as the un-Bush, cool to democracy because his predecessor was so keen for it. But to millions of subjugated human beings, he is the leader of the free world - an avatar of the democratic freedoms they hunger for. On the streets of Iran recently, many protesters held signs reading “Where Is My Vote?’’ There are limits to what the American president can do for Iran’s beleaguered democrats. But is it too much to ask that he take their question seriously?
I have two other explanations for why the Obama administration is so apathetic towards democracy. Let's take the one that does not directly involve Israel first.

President Obama has described himself as a 'citizen of the world.' In doing so, he is characterizing himself as what we would call a multi-culturalist. But he's not just someone who is tolerant of other cultures - he's a dogmatic multi-culturalist and his 'tolerance' extends to different forms of government. In Obama's world, all forms of government and all governments are equal. None is any better than the others.

Winston Churchill (Obama's anti-hero in more ways than one) is known to have quipped that liberal democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others. Obama disagrees with that statement. He would argue that democracy is a form of government that is no better nor worse than the others. Once one accepts that statement, there is no advantage to be gained by promoting democracy. Each form of government is to be treated as equally meitorious and is to be dealt with on its own terms.

That may be one explanation for why Obama has eschewed regime change in Iran, and why his 2010 budget cuts all funding for pro-Democracy movements in Iran. It would also explain why former Republican Presidential candidate John McCain said on Tuesday that he cannot figure out what side Obama is on in Iran. Well, of course he can't. Obama isn't on either side.

The second explanation for Obama's disdain for democracy is that if Obama valued democracy, he would also have to value and acknowledge its only true practitioner in the Middle East. Yes, Israel. While I realize that coming from someone who lives in Israel, this may seem to be a self-centered statement, the fact remains that the only specific foreign policy goal that the Obama administration has articulated is to endanger the State of Israel's continued existence by creating a 'Palestinian state.' Supporting democracy in the Middle East starts with supporting the continued secure existence of the State of Israel. Nothing could be further from Barack Obama's foreign policy goals.


At 3:12 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Obama's goal is the creation of a world in which America is no longer a superpower and in which it has to accept the ascendance of hostile regimes. That seems to be the common thread running through American foreign policy that at once seeks to undermine Israel's existence and on the other hand to appease the worst of its enemies. In such an environment, the promotion of democracy becomes a liability rather than the lodestar of the US national interest. Thus, it has come as no surprise the US seeks to diminish critical ties with Israel while looking forward to befriending the dictators in Iran.

What could go wrong indeed

At 8:04 PM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...

Thanks for the hat tip, Carl.

Jacoby is spot-on re Hussein. Sadly, we are stuck with him for the foreseeable future, and I have a feeling that he will only get worse, especially where Israel is concerned.

He seems to be on a par with Jimmy the Jew hater already, and may, in fact, exceed him.I never thought that I could even imagine any US President this bad. His actions against Israel, only 5 months into his first (and let us hope last) term? Both dangerous and despicable.

Wake up, America, especially American Jewry! Get out of your trance, damn it.

He is a menace to Israel, and also to the US...

What he is doing to the economy here, and trying to do to health care? He is trying his best to bankrupt the USA, and his actions have a knock down effect world-wide.

At 8:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually Obama's goal is one world order with everyone sharing and loving and singing kumbya. The problem with this leftist ideal is that not all world leaders have the same idea of utopia.

Some, Kim Jong Il for example, think an ideal utopia would be the destruction of the U.S. and it's democratic allies. They don't care if we all get along as long as they are in power.

And of course one world order would have to have an elite class to run things for the good of the rest of us, with OB in charge of that elite class.

At 7:16 AM, Blogger chaoticsynapticactivity said...

I believe Obama has never been a supporter of democracy, except as a vehicle to all him to get where he now is.

My contention is he never grew up in the country, and when he arrived in the US, it was a small outlying island, that is the US, but is unlike most of the rest of it. He only became exposed to the mainstream US when he was a young adult, with his path set up for him.

He was a champion (and still is) of ACORN, which is all about getting their way, and trashing democracy with vote fraud. He was one of their trainers and claims to be a community organizer in that mold.

He dislikes any form of free speech which does not show adoration of him, yet ensures he can control the throngs coming to worship him. How can a King ever truly embrace democracy?

He only wants it for his gain. He does not want it for any others to be so blessed, for he views it all a s zero sum game in life.

So, don't be surprised when he stands back and lets deomcracy rising be crushed. Notice also, he does the same thing here. yet he must be more subtle, letting the FCC and the FBI and the EPA and the AG's offices do the dirty work of intimidation into silence.


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