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The Globalization Of Freedom

Old 12-21-05, 09:50 PM
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The Globalization Of Freedom

http://www.investors.com/editorial/I...issue=20051221

Posted 12/21/2005

Democracy: With the media diet of genocide, civil war and terrorist chaos, you might be surprised to learn the world is freer than ever — and that the trend isn't new.

Indeed, since Ronald Reagan entered office in 1980, the world has gone from being a place largely hostile to political, personal and economic freedom to one now overwhelmingly free or at least "partly" free.


Eighty-nine of the world's 192 nations are now considered "free," according to Freedom House's annual survey of world governments. That's way up from 76 a decade ago, and a mere 40 countries as recently as 1975. In addition, 122 nations now qualify as electoral democracies, up from 119 last year and 76 in 1990.


In fact, the world has more democracies today than at any time in history, despite a steady drumbeat of seemingly horrible news.

"The past year has been notable for terrorist violence, ethnic cleansing, civil conflict, catastrophic natural disasters and geopolitical polarization," noted Arch Puddington, director of research at Freedom House. "That freedom could thrive in this environment is impressive."

Reagan deserves a great deal of credit for setting the trend in motion. He stood up against communist expansionism and, through his steadfastness and moral clarity, was able to ultimately defeat the Soviet Union. That cut loose more than a dozen former Soviet satellites, most of which are free today.

Though he got little credit at the time, Reagan's victory — accomplished with no blood spilled and no shots fired between the two superpowers — was one of the greatest in history.

During Reagan's time and after, country after country and region after region chose freedom and markets over slavery and economic control. Today, 4.13 billion of the world's total population of 6.48 billion live in countries that could be called "free" or "partly free."

What's even more heartening about this is that the trend has extended to a number of countries that many people had thought were all but immune to freedom's sweep.

The peaceful and almost hitch-free parliamentary elections held last week in Iraq are but one example. We were reminded of them again this week, when Vice President Dick Cheney attended the opening of Afghanistan's elected national parliament in Kabul, the nation's first democratic legislative body in more than 2,000 years of history.

The Freedom House report also lauds recent elections in Iraq, Egypt and the Palestinian territories, along with improvements in political rights and civil liberties in Lebanon following the withdrawal of Syrian troops.

President Bush has consistently and repeatedly insisted that freedom's cause is the only truly moral cause of humankind. In this, he is much like Reagan.

That's a big reason the War on Terror is being fought on positive terms. It isn't enough just to kill or marginalize terrorists. We must also create conditions for a more peaceful world by giving those who live in violent countries a reason to refuse arms.

Little by little, the world is becoming a better, more democratic place. It started under Reagan. It's continuing under Bush.
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Old 12-21-05, 10:12 PM
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Summary: The world is a better place thanks to Ronnie and Bush, and the media should be ashamed of themselves for daring to report any bad news in the world.
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Old 12-21-05, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Ranger
Summary: The world is a better place thanks to Ronnie and Bush, and the media should be ashamed of themselves for daring to report any bad news in the world.
You got the second half of that sentence from the little bit the article talked about the news?
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Old 12-21-05, 10:22 PM
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Yes.
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Old 12-21-05, 10:41 PM
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I love the source of that graph... exactly WTF is "Freedom House?"

"Little by little, the world is becoming a better, more democratic place. It started under Reagan. It's continuing under Bush. "

--- this is laughably partisan. I'm surprised "God Bless America" didn't start playing when I got the end of that article. Excuse me while I go throw up.

Edit: Regarding my 1st comment, I originally thought that the article itself AND the graph were generated by Freedom House. The article was written independently and has nothing to do with them.

Last edited by Dave7393; 12-22-05 at 06:46 PM.
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Old 12-21-05, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave7393
"Little by little, the world is becoming a better, more democratic place. It started under Reagan. It's continuing under Bush. "

--- this is laughably partisan. Excuse me while I go throw up.
Perhaps you could list the countries that became more democratic under Jimmy Carter? Or the ones that became less democratic under Ronald Reagan?

This may be a puff piece, but I think the numbers speak for themself. Although I suppose it doesn't matter if more democracy is a bad thing.
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Old 12-21-05, 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by X
Perhaps you could list the countries that became more democratic under Jimmy Carter? Or the ones that became less democratic under Ronald Reagan?
Oh that's right.... I forgot how this works...

Democrats = bad for democracy
Republicans = good for democracy.

Crystal clear now.

I'm surprised this chart didn't show a huge plunge in the 8 years Clinton was in office (his Presidency represents a third of that curve, but his name isn't mentioned anywhere... I'm shocked at the oversight ) A trend is a trend, and to attribute this as "Continuing under George W. Bush," as if he's some active participant in this Republican tide of world democracy, is just a bit too simplistic.

Last edited by Dave7393; 12-21-05 at 11:00 PM.
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Old 12-21-05, 11:02 PM
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I suppose you have the figures on Clinton? I would be interested in knowing what results his efforts toward democratizing the world bore.

I don't remember that being much of an expressed goal of his as Reagan and Bush have expressed, but I could have missed it.
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Old 12-21-05, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by X
I suppose you have the figures on Clinton? I would be interested in knowing what results his efforts toward democratizing the world bore.
.
Who needs figures when I have my trusty "Freedom House" graph! According to that, he's doing just as well as the Republicans.
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Old 12-21-05, 11:10 PM
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So because it didn't include Clinton and Bush I as having democratization as explict goals it's an article that makes one throw up instead of discussing the ramifications of having more democracies in the world?

I just happen to think the subject is an important one even though that's not the article I would have used to bring it up.
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Old 12-21-05, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by X
So because it didn't explicitly include Clinton and Bush I as having democratization as explict goals it's an article that makes one throw up instead of discussing the ramifications of having more democracies in the world?

I just happen to think the subject is an important one even though that's not the article I would have used to bring it up.
No, it makes me want to throw up because it's a piece of shit partisan fluff piece that I'd be embarrassed to bring to the table to prove a point. I think it ignores Bush 1 and Clinton because, as a Republican piece of propaganda, it's trying to somehow associate George W. Bush to Reagan, in an attempt to re-invigorate his slumping poll numbers (why mention a "failed" one-term President like Bush I, when we can talk about Reagan, right?) Call me cynical, but I have a funny feeling that was the point of this piece (i.e. George W Bush is like Reagan).

1. That graph proudly shows "free countries" and "not-free countries", and right in there, if that thing is to scale (which it should be, if it means a damn thing), is Clinton's Presidency.

2. The article TOTALLY ignores this fact-- and I'm supposed to take this piece seriously? Pretty unbelieveable.
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Old 12-21-05, 11:41 PM
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I love the source of that graph... exactly WTF is "Freedom House?"
It's my understanding Freedom House (started in the 40s by Eleanor Roosevelt BTW) is a pretty well known, established organization that publishes an annual report on this (just like many other advocacy organizations put out their own reports). See http://www.freedomhouse.org & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_House for more details (or http://watch.pair.com/FreedomHouse.html if you are of the more conspiratorial/black helicopters persuasion ). Now whether or not the editorial is specifically pro-Bush is one story. I think the work of Freedom House itself is something separate, and it seems even Clinton speaks highly of them http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...31/ai_18009477 I'm sure if we looked we could find an editorial about some FH report and how things were getting better during the Clinton years.

Are you guys seriously telling me you're having a partisan argument over the fact the number of free countries has increased during this past century...
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Old 12-21-05, 11:42 PM
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It doesn't just ignore Clinton. It shows a line that seems to have a pretty constant slope for the past 30 years and then focuses in on Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. From where I sit, it looks to me like Jerry Ford started a trend that's continued unabated through 5 different administrations.

OK, not really. But you have to admit, based on that graph, it looks like Reagan and Bush II were good for freedom -- and equally good were Carter, Bush I, and Clinton.

It's also curious that while the "not-free countries" graph is downward sloping throughout, the flatest part of the graph (i.e. the part where the transition from not-free to free was happening the least) is during the late-80s to early-90s -- right when the Soviet Union was falling and one by one, oppressive regimes were being replaced with democracies. Huh? That's the point where the transition from not-free to free slows down? That makes no sense to me.

These facts, coupled with the lack of any kind of methodology for characterizing countries as "free" or "not free" leads me to conclude that this graph is nothing more than self-serving bullshit.

Edit: OK, I looked at some of nemein's links, and it looks like Freedom House does have a methodology -- it's just not mentioned it in this article, which is not a Freedom House article.

Last edited by JasonF; 12-21-05 at 11:46 PM.
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Old 12-21-05, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by nemein
Are you guys seriously telling me you're having a partisan argument over the fact the number of free countries has increased during this past century...
Oh no, not during the past century... it all started under Reagan.
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Old 12-21-05, 11:45 PM
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These facts, coupled with the lack of any kind of methodology for characterizing countries as "free" or "not free" leads me to conclude that this graph is nothing more than self-serving bullshit.
For the methodology why don't you try looking up the actual reports instead of some 1 page summary/opinion piece...
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Old 12-21-05, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave7393
Oh no, not during the past century... it all started under Reagan.

Ah... now I see you guys want to have a partisan argument just because. If/when you bother looking up some of the actual studies (instead of reading opinion pieces on it) and want to really discuss whether or not freedom has increased in the last hundred years (and how much influence, if any really, the US has had on that) please do so and come back. Although I'm not going to be here much over the next couple of weeks so I'm not really sure how much I'll be able to participate.

Last edited by nemein; 12-21-05 at 11:51 PM.
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Old 12-21-05, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by nemein
For the methodology why don't you try looking up the actual reports instead of some 1 page summary/opinion piece...
I was not informed there would be homework in this thread.
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Old 12-21-05, 11:51 PM
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Congrats to all administrations that made this possible...there are we happy now?
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Old 12-21-05, 11:53 PM
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Originally Posted by JasonF
I was not informed there would be homework in this thread.

We are trying to turn this into a "thinking person's" forum. How much you want to educate yourself to keep up is up to you
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Old 12-21-05, 11:55 PM
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Originally Posted by nemein
...and how much influence, if any really, the US has had on that)
That was my point. I think attributing this "Globalization of Democracy" solely to the President of the United States is simplistic and stupid....

...and then singling out two Republican Presidents who are solely responsible? At some point, someone has to call bullshit.
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Old 12-21-05, 11:57 PM
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BTW a quick answer to why this particular chart only dates back to the mid-70s seems to be because that's when FH switched to using the current standard/methodology. I guess there were different methods used before then so it wouldn't be apples to apples comparisons.

Last edited by nemein; 12-22-05 at 12:04 AM.
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Old 12-22-05, 12:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave7393
That was my point. I think attributing this "Globalization of Democracy" solely to the President of the United States is simplistic and stupid....

...and then singling out two Republican Presidents who are solely responsible? At some point, someone has to call bullshit.

Great, now take the position and run w/ it. Provide some evidence/other studies (or even sections of the FH studies themselves) to show this instead of just calling "bullshit" and being done w/ it. That type of response is only going to engender a similar partisan response and then we're headed back to the "your side sucks" arguments.
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Old 12-22-05, 12:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Rockmjd23
Congrats to all administrations that made this possible...there are we happy now?
Yes. Now we need to get rid of the pesky Castro in our backdoor and the entire western hemisphere will be nearly free!
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Old 12-22-05, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by nemein
We are trying to turn this into a "thinking person's" forum. How much you want to educate yourself to keep up is up to you


I really don't think waiting to attack a report's methodology until you've read and understood the methodology is too much to ask.
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Old 12-22-05, 08:10 AM
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A thinking person's forum? I'm doomed.
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