Intermediate Form

Democratic Imperialism

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After the big Azores press conference with Anzar, Barroso, Blair, and Bush, the news networks went to their usual experts to discuss the speeches. As Fox had audio problems with the press conference, I was watching CNN. Clinton-era defense secretary Cohen called what the US was doing "democratic imperialism".

This is a horrible phrase. Let's look at some definitions, from WordNet:

  imperialism
     n 1: a policy of extending your rule over foreign countries
       2: a political orientation that advocates imperial interests
       3: any instance of aggressive extension of authority

  democracy
     n 1: the political orientation of those who favor government by
          the people or by their elected representatives
       2: a political system in which the supreme power lies in a body
          of citizens who can elect people to represent them
       3: the doctrine that the numerical majority of an organized
          group can make decisions binding on the whole group 

So, what he's saying is that the US is extending its power over a country by having them elect people to represent them. That doesn't make much sense to me.

That being said, I don't see why imperial rule by the US would be any worse than Saddam's tyranny. While I think our end goal is and should be to install liberal democracy in Iraq, even if we didn't I don't think rule by the US would be any worse for the Iraqi people. At the very least, inside the US, people would feel free to criticize the government for oppressing the Iraqi people, without much fear of reprisal. (In fact, many people do this without any actual oppression taking place.)

But I think the most likely outcome will be the quick liberalization of Iraq, followed after a few years by the installation of a democratic government.

- Tom | permalink | changelog | Last updated: 2003-03-16 14:40

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