15 July 2010

Trend: Democracy in trouble

The "Washington Post" last week published two articles on the backlash against democracy (promotion). First, on 5 July, an opinion piece titled "Around the world, freedom is in peril" by Fred Hiatt, the paper's Editorial Page Editor.

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpts: "As America this weekend celebrates the birth of its liberty, in much of the rest of the world freedom and democracy are in retreat. Over the past decade, authoritarian rulers have refined their techniques to stay in power, learning from each other and thinking two steps ahead of democratic forces. [...] They recognized the threat and mobilized, with old-fashioned methods and new. From China to Egypt to Cuba, political challengers were neutralized, as they always had been, by confiscation of property, imprisonment and torture, with the examples of a few chastening the many. The foolish mistakes of one regime – allowing elections before seizing total control of the election machinery, as in Burma in 1990 – were duly noted and not repeated.

"Dictators have learned from each other to stamp out any buds of independent civil society by means of tax laws and supposedly neutral regulation. With China in the lead, they learned not only to neutralize the World Wide Web but to turn it into an effective weapon for propaganda, tracking and repression of their own citizens, and attacks against democratic rivals. Taking advantage of their control of television, they mobilized ideologies of nationalism and anti-terrorism to undermine the rhetoric of freedom. So at decade's end, the correlation of forces, as the Communists used to say, looks bleak. Three assertive powers – China, Russia and Iran – not only resist democratization but actively seek to disseminate their model of authoritarian rule in their spheres of influence."

On 6 July, the paper published an op-ed titled "Democracy in trouble" by columnist Anne Applebaum.

The full text of the article can be read free of charge here:


Excerpt: "[D]emocracy is in trouble. By every measure, the world's autocrats have become more entrenched over the past decade. Countries as disparate as Russia, Venezuela and Iran have become adept at using the rhetoric of 'democracy' – along with faked elections, phony political parties, even state-controlled 'civil society' organizations – to deflect pressure for change. But democracy promotion has also been unfairly discredited by the invasion of Iraq, a decision too often remembered as nothing more than a foolish 'war for democracy' that went predictably wrong. [...] Since becoming president, Barack Obama has shied away from the word democracy in foreign contexts – he prefers 'our common security and prosperity' – as if it might be some dangerous Bushism."

No comments:

Post a Comment