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Religion, Politics and World Events They make great dinner conversation, don't you think? plus Political Film

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Old 10-15-06, 02:10 PM   #1
Parcher
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The export of democracy: who's with me?

I've had it. I've seriously had it.

I live in Europe, Denmark, most of my familly is well, social-democratic despite labelling themselves as other things on other occasions.

My views are largely libertarian, or perhaps more specific, small-government republican. It's a little undecided, but you know where I am coming from. Just had a family discussion...

Now that is clear, I've had it with people who critize the right to export democracy. Obviously it's a controversial issue, the real problem is largely HOW it should be exported and not if it is RIGHT.

OF COURSE it is right. What rights do tyrants, mass murderering psychotic lunatics of communist or fascist states have? Obviously none. You can't claim any right, you don't have any right when you are opressing your own people. It's simply absurd. Just like how people say (yes I've heard this) that if America has the right to nukes so does NOrth Korea. Say what? How can the country have any rights when they're starving, killing, humiliating and abusing the people?

I needed this rant, because frankly I find people who attack the RIGHT to export democracy ignorant. They should have a little trip to North Korea or be born and poor in Cuba or try a trip to Nazi Germany or work in the gulags of the Soviet Union.

The distinction between RIGHT and METHOD is completely vital. There can be no discussion that an undemocratic psychotic ruler has no rights. It's common sense, it's self-explanatory. If you want to criticize anything then attack how it is exported - don't attack the purpose unless you want a mass murdering lunatic to rule your country.

Needed to get that off my chest. Democracy is a right, human rights are essential, and freedom is the cornerstone of all happiness. Undemocratic dictators don't have any more right than I have the right to kill everyone in my neighborhood.

SUMMARY:
The right to export democracy is unquestionable.
The method of exporting democracy is up for discussion.

How can anyone disagree?

Last edited by Parcher; 10-15-06 at 02:13 PM.
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Old 10-15-06, 02:41 PM   #2
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I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. What do you mean regarding the "right to export democracy". You mean going to countries and attempting to sell them the same cultural values democratic people have?
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Old 10-15-06, 02:51 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. What do you mean regarding the "right to export democracy". You mean going to countries and attempting to sell them the same cultural values democratic people have?
The right to suspend dictators and gradually adopt the rule of democracy with a constitution respect fundamental human rights.
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Old 10-15-06, 03:16 PM   #4
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I agree with you completely, Parcher, and I think you've hit the nail on the head as far as the problem in the West---just read the BBC "Have your Say" posts. Many in the West think it's fair and right that countries like Iran and NK get nuclear weapons, as a counterbalance to the USA's power. Many are not just critical of Israel, but would actually PREFER a Hezbollah victory. The fact that someone like Saddam Hussein is out of power is dismissed as inconsequential.

I think healthy ideas, like that the "West has not always lived up to the moral standards it professes", and that "war is a terrible thing", have been taken to pathological extremes and have turned into "the West is usually wrong", and "anything is preferable to war". It's self-criticism and humility mutated into self-loathing and appeasing, suicidal pacifism. Brutal dictators and despotic regimes are given the benefit of the doubt, and they can't be criticized without also including a moral-equivalency argument pointing out the flaws of the West.

I think Europe is in a bit worse state at the moment, with free speech and artistic expression under attack, but many of the same philosophies are in the USA. I think you're exactly right that the method can be debated---obviously the Iraq war is demonstrating that using military force to immediately enforce a democracy is not looking like an effective method--but the values of the liberal democracies of the West have to be supported and exported.
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Old 10-15-06, 03:33 PM   #5
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KyFi, what a great post. Your wording and precision are excellent! I agree with absolutely everything you just wrote. I am very glad to hear others feel the same way.

Frankly, sometimes I feel that citizens of the free world forget to appreciate the 300 year struggle for liberty, the blood that has been shed, the lives that have been given so that we could be where we are now. Not only are they forgetting that we are only here because of our past struggles for freedom, they also forget that other countries and future citizens deserve the same freedom. I feel that their lack of appreciation is due to the fact that they have not experienced otherwise, and also that they haven't had to fight for anything.

If our forefathers had adopted the same defeatist, up-giving attitude not to promote democracy (and create revolutions, suspend tyrants) then we would not be here.

My second point in this post is this: I've heard the argument that these people of other countries do not even wish for democracy, they don't wish to be liberated. Not only is that a gross blanket-statement, it's also an attack on future generations. If children are taught murder, rule, and no human values, then that pattern will be kept. Let me draw a parallel, again, to North Korea: They are taught, perhaps brainwashed to believe they are happy. By large measures of propaganda they are held down, and probably do not even know better - don't they have the right to know better, to be free of mass murder, concentration camps and starvation? Of course. Anything else stands without defense.
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Old 10-15-06, 04:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parcher
My second point in this post is this: I've heard the argument that these people of other countries do not even wish for democracy, they don't wish to be liberated. Not only is that a gross blanket-statement, it's also an attack on future generations. If children are taught murder, rule, and no human values, then that pattern will be kept. Let me draw a parallel, again, to North Korea: They are taught, perhaps brainwashed to believe they are happy. By large measures of propaganda they are held down, and probably do not even know better - don't they have the right to know better, to be free of mass murder, concentration camps and starvation? Of course. Anything else stands without defense.
I think, as a general rule, it is difficult for an outside party to come into a country and impose democracy. This is not to say that people in Iraq or North Korea or wherever don't want to be free. Rather, there is a lot of power that comes with freedom, and if the people aren't ready to exercise that power through a robust system of checks and balances, it will create a power vacuum -- a vacuum that someone will fill.
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Old 10-15-06, 04:53 PM   #7
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Suppose Country X wanted democracy. How many of OUR people are WE willing to sacrifice to see that Country X is democratic? That's the problem. Giving a thumbs-up to countries emulating Western Values is one thing and I highly doubt anyone argues that wishful thinking, but the next step, which is providing help to that country and just how much and what kind of help we extend to that country, and for how long before it is considered a failure, is entirely a much more serious debate.

My second point in this post is this: I've heard the argument that these people of other countries do not even wish for democracy, they don't wish to be liberated. Not only is that a gross blanket-statement, it's also an attack on future generations. If children are taught murder, rule, and no human values, then that pattern will be kept.

And I've made several posts about this very difficult problem. We cannot just walk into a country, scream "Democracy!" from the tops of our lungs and expect a culture to just go along with us. You have to re-teach the young and do away with those who teach hatred. Now, how do you that? How do you rid a country of those who would teach hate to their children?

While I agree, not everyone from Country X would deny an opportunity for a better life, but on the other hand, I highly doubt they are demanding democracy as WE would interpret it.
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Last edited by DVD Polizei; 10-15-06 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 10-15-06, 05:04 PM   #8
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Its hard to bring democracy to a nation when you first sold their warlords tanks and guns.
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Old 10-15-06, 05:05 PM   #9
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DVD, you are discussing the tools. I am talking about the right, and the disctinction between the two is vital. I never said it was easy, I never said it was simple or destined to work. I said that those who suspend autocratic regimes to instate democracy and respect for human rights violate no right or sovererignity, since the autocratic regime has no right.

My point is actually quite simple, but many fail to understand it. While attacking/criticizing the tools with which democracy is exported (which is fair to attack, it's difficult) they often also argue that rights are being violated. Which is wrong.

Last edited by Parcher; 10-15-06 at 05:10 PM.
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Old 10-15-06, 05:10 PM   #10
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Parcher sounds a lot like Pharoh.

BTW: I'm not with you.
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Old 10-15-06, 05:55 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parcher
The right to suspend dictators and gradually adopt the rule of democracy with a constitution respect fundamental human rights.
"Suspend" dictators? What does that mean?

Parcher, I think you're arguing two different points. One is the sham of liberal guilt, the idea that we somehow deserve to be attacked, that the despots and the dictators somehow are on an equal footing with fairly elected of free societies. I'm sure you'll find a lot of people "with you" on this point.

But the rest of what you're saying is more problematic. "Exporting" democracy sounds a heck of a lot like what we tried to do in Iraq. When you use terms like "suspend dictators" it seems to confirm that for me.

I'm in the process (and I apologize, MADC23, for it taking this long) of watching the film Obsession: Radical Islam's War with the West. One thing that the film does really well is show you a behind-the-scenes view of what's going on in the Muslim world. My first reaction on seeing this film is, "Holy shit -- we think there's a military response to this?" The idea that we can somehow force someone over there to abandon their jihaddist quest at the barrel of a gun... it's beyond preposterous. We can't use our Army to "export" democracy -- and I'm not completely sold that should be the primary business of the United States in any case. (Nor am I convinced that is our real aim, as we continue to support despots and dictators from Saudi Arabia to Egypt to Uzbekistan.)

Of course, the United States has been in the democracy business for 230 years now -- but like most businesses, we've had the most sales when we relied on advertising and word-of-mouth.

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Old 10-15-06, 06:11 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonF
I think, as a general rule, it is difficult for an outside party to come into a country and impose democracy. This is not to say that people in Iraq or North Korea or wherever don't want to be free. Rather, there is a lot of power that comes with freedom, and if the people aren't ready to exercise that power through a robust system of checks and balances, it will create a power vacuum -- a vacuum that someone will fill.

Not to mention that the West has proven time and time again that they don't care about democracy when it comes to allies. The West, particularly the US, would rather see friendly dictatorships.
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Old 10-15-06, 06:15 PM   #13
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Our policy is should be an interest driven policy.

Often times, democracy in certain countries is not in the best interest of the United
States - Saudia Arabia for example.

And, has been said over and over again on this forum - we may not (probably won't) like the democracy that others choose.
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Old 10-15-06, 06:39 PM   #14
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Hell yeah! I think the UN and any other voice of the world should proclaim that Democracy is the only acceptable form of government. Failure to comply will result in sanctions!!!

Now how do we make it happen? That's where we part roads.
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Old 10-15-06, 06:46 PM   #15
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It's a difficult question, I personally believe that we don't have a "Right" to export democracy, but we have a responsibility to support and protect regimes that are freely elected and protect the individual rights of their citizens.

Iraq is a very heavy-handed approach to that idea, I would prefer more emphasis on economic and infrastructure aid.
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Old 10-15-06, 07:04 PM   #16
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but we have a responsibility to support and protect regimes that are freely elected and protect the individual rights of their citizens.
I don't.
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Old 10-15-06, 07:09 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by CRM114
Hell yeah! I think the UN and any other voice of the world should proclaim that Democracy is the only acceptable form of government. Failure to comply will result in sanctions!!!

Now how do we make it happen? That's where we part roads.
King Abdullah would probably revoke the security council's oil privaledges. See how long those sanctions last then!

But seriously, it annoys me how people always rage on about dictators like Kim Il-Sung and Saddam Hussein when they're on a pro-democracy bent, but they never mention all the friendly little dictators that the worlds great democracies happily do business with on a daily basis. Followers do this out of blindness, and leaders probably do it quite deliberately. Heck, what about general Musharraf? There's a nice dictator with nukes who is probably ten times more likely to use them than North Korea. Where's the outrage over that?

This is all firmly within the methods rather than the right of promoting democracy, but I think a big reason why many people have a negative attitude towards western democracies preaching the supremacy of the democratic way is the inconsistancy and absolute hypocracy with which they do it. You can't invade one country and say you did it to spread democracy when there were literally dozens of far more sadistic dictators in Africa alone. You can't say that you're protecting the world from evil dictators when you attack a pissant little country like Iraq that had no WMD's and then say Nice Doggy to North Korea and shack up with Pakistan.

I guess my point is that the methods with which democracies proselytize actually damage the case for their right to spread democracy.
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Old 10-15-06, 07:20 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by Birrman54
but we have a responsibility to support and protect regimes that are freely elected and protect the individual rights of their citizens.

Funny - I've rarely seen that responsibility demonstrated by the West.
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Old 10-15-06, 07:34 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Red Dog
Funny - I've rarely seen that responsibility demonstrated by the West.
Exactly.

I'd much rather we attempt to export the ideas of individual rights, private property, free markets and free trade than democracy. But that can't be forced (any more than democracy can be forced). The way to do it is to encourage and actually practice free trade and get back to free markets ourselves and set an example. Without freedom's underpinnings and governments guaranteeing those freedoms, democracy is just "three wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner."
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Old 10-15-06, 07:36 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parcher
DVD, you are discussing the tools. I am talking about the right, and the disctinction between the two is vital. I never said it was easy, I never said it was simple or destined to work. I said that those who suspend autocratic regimes to instate democracy and respect for human rights violate no right or sovererignity, since the autocratic regime has no right.

My point is actually quite simple, but many fail to understand it. While attacking/criticizing the tools with which democracy is exported (which is fair to attack, it's difficult) they often also argue that rights are being violated. Which is wrong.
Well, if you're talking about the right then I disagree. One culture's right is only valid within their own culture. Taking it outside the culture and instituting a moral equivalency while justifying the deaths of civil fighting and other issues which will certainly come up, is by no means a "right". You could say the same for the other culture that is attempting to institute their right in your culture.
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Old 10-15-06, 07:43 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by DVD Polizei
Well, if you're talking about the right then I disagree. One culture's right is only valid within their own culture. Taking it outside the culture and instituting a moral equivalency while justifying the deaths of civil fighting and other issues which will certainly come up, is by no means a "right". You could say the same for the other culture that is attempting to institute their right in your culture.
I totally disagree with you. I say people have the right to live as they want as long as they do not interfere with the identical right of others to live as they want (i.e. as long as they do not initiate force or fraud or the threat of force against others). Just because a government or culture does not allow or protect such rights does not mean they don't exist for each and every person.

Yes, in that sense I am a moral and political absolutist, not a moral or cultural relativist.
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Old 10-15-06, 08:15 PM   #22
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Democracy is nothing but tyranny of the majority. As others have said - if tomorrow, all the dictatorships in the world disappeared and free elections were held, we would most likely not be happy with the results. I agree with movielib that principles of personal freedom, property, and free markets are preferrable to encouraging simple democracy - and are in fact essential to any prosperous society. I believe the ideas in our constitution are worth upholding and sharing with the world. Unfortunately, I don't think the United States currently values these ideas enough to be in any position to enforce them elsewhere.

Our government is one of consistently growing central power, and I think we should focus on cleaning up our own act first. The problem is that government has become a business like any other and the countless bureaucracies, agencies, and organizations are typically interested in self-preservation above all. Obviously, government needs to be involved in our lives as a regulator to some extent, but don't think anyone can honestly say we've made efforts to restrain its growth or that our current, sprawling mess of a government is absolutely necessary.

One of the most significant problems, as I see it, is one that too few people are honestly willing to address - religion. It has consistently acted as the historical impediment to progress in the form of freedom, and it still does to this day. The Middle East is obviously the most dramatic example, but no one can deny the extensive power that Christianity currently has in our own government and limiting personal freedoms. The current greatness of our Western civilization would not be possible were it not for the steady decline of influence religion holds on our governments.

Sorry for the tangental rant, and I realize this is a somewhat over-simplification of incredibly complex subject matter, but I do not have the time to elaborate.
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Old 10-15-06, 08:26 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by classicman2
Our policy is should be an interest driven policy.

Often times, democracy in certain countries is not in the best interest of the United
States - Saudia Arabia for example.

And, has been said over and over again on this forum - we may not (probably won't) like the democracy that others choose.
I think the US should encourage democratic movements when they have the potential to disrupt and overthrough problem regimes around the world. Iran is a great example. The Kurds are another example of a group who has worked closely with US forces for half a generation. They are the one group in Iraq who show some promise.
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Old 10-15-06, 08:53 PM   #24
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What's wrong with letting the Iranians decide for themselves what they wish to do?

Why should we interfere - as long as they don't attempt to hamper the free flow of oil from the Persian Gulf - let them be.
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Old 10-15-06, 09:41 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by classicman2
What's wrong with letting the Iranians decide for themselves what they wish to do?

Why should we interfere - as long as they don't attempt to hamper the free flow of oil from the Persian Gulf - let them be.
It would be in our interest if they decide they want to oust Admanijad and replace him with someone who is interested in being a good neighbor to the region and a good friend to the U.S. How to do that, though ... well, that's the tricky part.
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