Monday, January 22, 2007

One of the smartest men in the world misses the point and misses it badly. Fareed Zakaria

One of the smartest men in the world misses the point and misses it badly. (Fareed Zakaria)

In Mr. Zakaria’s latest Newsweek column he talks about Bush “souring” the world on democracy. Well, thank you very much Fareed, I did not know that we/US/Bush had that kind of quick power. In fact, I would like to suggest that the world is already sour to the idea of the hard work that is democracy way before Bush. If you could list for me the democracies that started and functioned, as Iraq is expected to function, in three years.

As the world becomes a Human Security world instead of a National Security world we are bound to see the “pangs” and ugliness of the switch. Democracy and its close cousin Sovereignty are the red headed step children of Human Security or, if you like, Human Sovereignty. They are now in a back seat to the feel good age of “save the children” and “Responsibility to Protect.” (Doctrines that I mostly agree with.)

In Darfur we can pass UNSC resolution after resolution (ten in fact including 1706) in order to prove to the world that the “Global Civil Society” is quite concerned and sympathetic. What we can’t do is take substantive measures to bring about real change because that might cost 10s of thousands of lives or risk a developing nation's oil exploits (read: China). (As opposed to the scores of thousands of lives lost now.) See Utilitarian Calculus.

The difference is the crux of my argument with Fareed. The difference is the absence of a stalwart nature that our previous generations had. This dedication to something larger than the present was the hallmark and major contribution of the “greatest generation.” What is more, not only do we lack this noble quality we reward the opposite. The short sighted onslaught that began its attack on the US no latter than post 9/11 has been very successful. In fact it has been wildly successful. Immediately Post-Modernist/Relative views flooded open ears as an answer to “Why?”, or the Chomskyfication of the canon of international relations thought. (Bush's main failure (one of many) is allowing the Chomskyfication of IR to go unchecked.)

These overly equivocating views painted the US as brutish and arrogant. While often enough true, the other more over arching context and prospective left out is the stalwart goal we have in mind while exercising our noble minded vigor for decent ends. Ends that when tallied by history, and those not as prone to confirmation bias, reveal what many of us all ready know, that the US is in fact still –as always- a champion for those that look first to the ideal of individualism and conservatism tempered with liberalism. (Or the only lasting and working formula for a true civil society.)

The great disconnect is that the “world” is not interested in anything but feel good quick fix entitlement liberalism that makes the talking head of the moment look as though he/she is uniquely sympathetic and connected to the root of the problem. Add to this an all too willing media (that Fareed is a part of) that not surprisingly insists on reporting the one truck that did catch on fire on the highway instead of the multitudes that did not, and you have the reason that one might infer that the world has “soured” to democracy because of Bush or the US.

Clearly it is democracy that has brought us to the most peaceful of times in recorded history, clearly it is democracy that allows Fareed’s very thoughts to be published, clearly it is democracy that continues to be an axiom a truism a heuristic and not this promise of a never existent collective security that ideally, though never actually, is supposed to protect the least among us. This “tragedy of the commons” that is collective security only ever rarely works because of the effort of those willing to stand for something like democracy and real security. Those that "sour" to democracy do so at their own peril and there own volition.

So Mr. Fareed Zakaria, in the one breath I recognize your vast contribution and in the other I point out the horrible over simplification and “misunderestimation” that is your last Newsweek addition. I hope for clearer and deeper work next time around.

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