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October 5, 2007
"Democracy has been Demoted"
Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal has the column of the day on the naivete of the Burmese Buddhist monks who went into the streets of Yangon 100,000 strong to protest for democracy - only to discover that "democracy has been demoted:"
In the U.S. and Europe, the notion of creating "a balance of power that favors human freedom" as a counterweight to terror networks is now routinely mocked as "a dream," "a fiasco" and "a failure." And as soon as the abominable Bush and the neocons are gone, their "oversold" democratic pipe dream will be replaced by an American foreign policy that is more "modest." One need only look at Lebanon to recognize a ring of truth in that last statement. Lebanon's immense problems with getting Syria off its back, trying to live with Israel, while dealing with an Iranian inspired "Coup in Slow Motion" with Hezb'allah increasing pressure on the democratic forces, have all combined to cause the left in this country to throw up its hands and call for the US to stay the heck away and not be concerned about what happens in that tiny country.
As it happens, the opposition party in Burma, the one getting shot, is called the National League for Democracy. Not the National League for Stability, but Democracy. One hopes the monks, reported by the BBC to be headed for internment camps, aren't expecting too much from "the world," because not much is coming. If before deciding to fill Rangoon's streets the "saffron-robed" monks had spent more time reading pundits and foreign-policy intellectuals in Washington or Western Europe, they would have known that democracy has been demoted.
The Bush Doctrine's critics will say this is unfair, that they support aspiring democracies, that their critique of the neocons is mostly about Iraq. Perhaps, but I would argue that this tidy distinction--"we only mean Iraq, we're all for Burma"--has been lost on the popular imagination. The anti-Bush, anti-neocon obsession has been so constant, so often pegged to the broader Bush "dream" for democracy and freedom, that its critics have tossed out the world's democratic babies with the Iraqi and Afghan bathwater.
And it isn't just Lebanon where this "pragmatic" approach to foreign policy can be seen. Nascent democracy movements in Egypt, Yemen, and even Saudi Arabia are experiencing crackdowns thanks to the apparent US abandonment of the Bush doctrine. Basically, we're just not putting the kind of pressure on these governments we were a few years ago to reform. It's that simple.
Read Henninger's entire piece. He is seething after watching the military crackdown in Burma and for good reason; the world abandoned the tiny country in its hour of need. And God knows when such a moment will come again for them.