President Bush’s higher realism – Part Two

Joshua Muravchik, in the Opinion Journal, explains why, when it comes to foreign policy, “a sober reading of the historical evidence shows that President Bush and his fellow idealists are more realistic than the ‘realists.'” Muravchik marshals the historical evidence that freedom and democracy has spread across borders and cultures. He also notes the recent advancement of freedom and democracy in the one region that, until now, has been left behind — the Middle East and North Africa (which, not coincidentally constitutes the epicenter of global terrorism). As to the practical objections to President Bush’s injection of issues of freedom, democracy and human rights into the conduct of foreign policy, Muravchik has this to say:

Some skeptics warn that democracy may not prove to be a cure-all for terrorism. Perhaps, but the record so far shows that democracies rarely produce wars or terrorism, and at a minimum we can predict confidently that we will have less of both as democracy spreads.
Others warn that to recklessly overthrow benign dictators will pave the way for less benign radicals. But there is no need to simply topple regimes: Our goal will surely be incremental change. And our key method should be to strengthen indigenous democrats through moral, political and material support, so they can be the agents of peaceful political transitions.
Still others make the reverse argument, saying that if we don’t move single-mindedly for regime change then we are not sincere. But, democratization cannot be the only item on our diplomatic agenda. There will be other pressing issues like security and economics. The test of President Bush’s sincerity is not whether he pursues freedom to the exclusion of everything else, but whether he insists on including it consistently among our priorities.

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