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Friday, August 26, 2005

Advance democracy

There is legislation afoot in the US to promote democracy in repressive places, it's been on the books for a while but will be voted on soon.
Tucked inside the House version of a bill that authorizes spending on foreign aid is the language of what is known as the ADVANCE Democracy Act. The act instructs American ambassadors and embassy staffs to draw up democracy transition plans for unfree regimes, with input from nonviolent opposition movements in the various countries. While Congress has passed laws that require America to work with democratic opposition groups for specific countries - such as the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act - never before has it considered a law that would, as ADVANCE proposes, "commit United States foreign policy to the challenge of achieving universal democracy."


The new act seems to have bipartisan support, as did the Iraq Liberation act, so chances are it will make it into law. I say seems because the article mentions all Democrat sponsors, apart from one Mr McCain who on occasion is something of a RINO. But that aside the State Department seems to be preparing for the act to be passed. However, the current administration seems a little cool on some of the more stringent details
Despite Mr. Lantos's view that he is advancing Mr. Bush's policy, the White House at least officially opposes most of the legislation's toughest measures. A July 20 statement of administration policy by the Bush administration said that it "appreciates the intent" of the proposal but objects to provisions that require the secretary of state to categorize countries according to whether they are democratic. The statement says the bill could "constrain the Secretary's authority to determine appropriate terms and conditions to enable discretionary foreign assistance to best serve our diverse foreign policy objectives." The statement also rejected measures in the bill that would create an undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs.
Of course, it'd be surprising for any administration to jump feet first into any new legislation that strictly defined actions on any matter. But the act seems well intentioned, one can only hope that it doesn't become a shield for inaction. You need look no further than the UN for an example of the paralysis that can occur under such circumstances. But, overall, you'd expect most people to be happy with such an idea as it puts diplomacy and "soft power" at the forefront. However, Salon runs an article running down the affair. Apparently an act that the administration isn't too keen on will be a cover for "Bush's failures". OK, anyway. Seems that an overarching commitment to democracy and freedom isn't that good and, shock horror, some of the backers include neocons, Christians and Horowitz. Oh the humanity! But it is Salon after all, funny how they come over all realist sometimes. But Mr Rummel at the Freedomist Network takes some issue with that line
But, still, what we have here is the realist's fight against President Bush's freedom oriented foreign policy. All I can say is: Look, you realists governed American foreign policy from World War II until Ronald Reagan's presidency, and you fought him, including his "evil empire speech." You should recognize that a "realistic" foreign policy, as realists define it, is a policy that leads to accepting tyranny and down the path to war. But, if realism is understanding the base dynamics of international relations and the fundamental solution to tyranny and violence, and how best to secure America's future, then Bush's foreign policy and the Advance Democracy Act are more realistic than what the realists propose. A more appropriate conceptualization of this is that Bush, Lantos, McCain, and Wolf are the realists, while the self-identified realists are reactionaries.


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Posted by Chefen | 8/26/2005 06:02:00 PM

18 Comments:

Blogger Ackers1 said...

We are of course witnessing the spectacular success of this policy in Iraq. An overarching committment to democracy and freedom is leading to.....oh never mind. Lofty ideals and meaningless platitudes are always such good substitutes for intelligent policy based on the real world. Give me Clinton and Salon any day to this.

8/26/2005 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger Chefen said...

Once again the point goes zipping by you Ackers.

Give me Clinton and Salon any day to this.

Fine, you've got them. Watch out for stains on your dress.

8/26/2005 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger Ackers1 said...

The point was? I doubt I'm the one disconnected from reality.

8/26/2005 07:11:00 PM  
Blogger Chefen said...

OK, I'll play your game.

The point was about the Advance Act. Note this is not sponsored by the current US administration, if anything they appear to be a bit cool on the whole thing. It is sponsored by prominent Democrats and McCain, hardly a pro-Bush team. Despite that, Salon tries to portray it as a cover for Bush because some conservatives also back it. They attempt to portray themselves as realists, advocating the realist approach of cutting deals with dictators. But of course they'd scream blue murder if W was cutting deals with Saddam still, for example. They also fear the US being hypocritical, as if a nation can be hypocritical. How for example can "America" be hypocritical if the act is passed when, for example, "America" was realistic under the Carter administration? Thus Rummel's point. Finally, you may notice, no one mentioned Bill Clinton and his intelligent "wag the dog" policy.

I'm somewhat sceptical of the act myself, but not because everytime I hear the word "Bush" my kneejerks so hard I lose teeth or when someone mentions "democracy" I collapse in a salivating fit of apoplexy.

8/26/2005 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

ackers, so what exactly would your policy be? Please share it.

8/26/2005 08:12:00 PM  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Yes Ackers, lets here what you would do instead of promoting democracy.

8/26/2005 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger Ackers1 said...

Clearly I would do exactly the opposite and come up with an act that promotes self interest and socialist enslavement. All very nice but essentially meaningless. Coming up with something like the "Iraq Liberation Act" sounds all very fine but the results of American action are clear for all but the most hidebound ideologues to see. A total fucking disaster which isn't actually advancing democracy very much at all and is badly damaging broader American interests in both Iraq and the rest of the Middle East.

I cringe every time Bush opens his mouth these days as I imagine a good many Americans do. He has nothing of substance to say, just more of the same dribble about staying the course and continuing the fight to honour those that have already died.

I mean just go and read the last 3 speeches.
http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/08/20050823.html

I defy anyone to read through this sludge and think they are still dealing with someone who has any vision for what needs to be done to actually achieve what you are talking about.

8/26/2005 10:17:00 PM  
Blogger Chefen said...

Watch the point Ackers... there it goes again,

Advance Act is McCain-Lieberman sponsored. Why the pantytwisting about Bush?

8/26/2005 10:34:00 PM  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

I'm not sure what your point is Ackers. The people killing largely civilians in Iraq are enemies of democracy - they don't want a bar of it. Surely you realise they must be confronted and defeated, just like the KKK in southern USA had to be confronted and defeated, or the Black Panthers in several US cities (etc).

8/26/2005 10:50:00 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Ackers, you still haven't answered the question.

8/27/2005 07:24:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

keith. Have you ever complained or said anything about the AIDS virus? or cancer? if so, in the future I would like to hear your idea for a cure first please, before you say anything about these diseases again. Thank you.

Ridiculous, isn't it?

8/27/2005 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Roger, yeah, your comment is ridiculous. At least we agree on that.
Lefties do nothing but carp and whinge and moan about the policies of the Bush administration and the way the war is being fought by the U.S. military but I've yet to see either you or Ackers come up with constructive alternatives.
Your comment about AIDS and cancer is another typical red herring designed to avoid having to answer a simple question.
Which is still unanswered.

8/27/2005 10:03:00 AM  
Blogger Ackers1 said...

For a start Keith we wouldn't have been so stupid as to start the war in the 1st place. It was a war of choice not necessity.

Point taken on Bush Chefen. A healthy dose of realpolitik is clearly what's needed most by this Administration.

8/27/2005 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

ok Ackers, that tells me what you wouldn't have done. We're halfway there.

8/27/2005 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Ackers1 said...

Keith, it is beyond my capacity to suggest a way forward out of this current morass. We need to let the Middle East transform itself, not according to our dictates, but according to its own pace and logic.

As for Iraq I fear it is too late. Staying the course with current troop comittments means the insurgency will inevitably grow stronger. It's an insane policy that is only strengthening the hand of Islamic extremism within the insurgency.

There are no good options for the Americans - either they invest in the military resources and personnel required to defeat the Sunni insurgents and allow the Shia and Kurds to consolidate power or withdraw and let the Shia, Sunni, and Kurds find their own solution.

8/27/2005 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger Keith said...

Ackers, I can see the sense of that argument.(invest in the military resources)
I'd prefer to see the effort cranked up a hell of a lot, even if it meant taking on Syria as well.
For sure, it's high time the administration either puts in the manpower necessary, or withdraws and lets a civil war run its course.
I think half the problems are caused by the U.S. trying to run a war with one eye on a hostile media and the other on the polls. And of course, the two are directly related.

8/27/2005 12:49:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Advocating for civil war, keith? What a cretin.

You understand my point I think. It is asanine for someone to suggest that unless a person has a a better plan that they can't criticise the status quo. You look like an idiot every time you do it. But by all means, keep doing it.

From your reaction to my last comment, you seem to be about 15-years old?

8/27/2005 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Lucyna said...

Roger, in your case you offer no constructive critisism. People are free to critisise, whether or not anyone is going to bother listening to them if all they can do is critisise in a non-contructive way is more the point that Keith was making. In real life, moaners and whiners tend to have a limited audience.

8/27/2005 09:06:00 PM  

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