BUSH AND DEMOCRACY….One of the talking points of the Bush administration is that democracy promotion is a major part of their post-9/11 foreign policy strategy. Basically, the theory is that democracies don’t attack other democracies, so the more democracies we help create the safer we are.
But is democratization really a goal of the Bush administration? Josh Marshall makes the case today that aside from talking about it occasionally, the Bush administration has done exactly zero to genuinely promote democracy abroad.
I think he’s basically right. Bush talks about democracy occasionally, he’s announced a few desultory programs that he’s rather obviously uninterested in, and he’s kinda sorta tried to install some semblance of democracy in the two countries we’ve invaded recently ? something that any U.S. president would have done. (What, you think Clinton would have advocated a military dictatorship?)
In reality, Bush seems less interested in democracy than Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, or Bill Clinton. Even his father took a risk in bringing democracy to Panama.
But has Bush done a single thing to promote democracy that was even slightly risky, slightly dramatic, or slightly out of the ordinary? Not that I can think of.
UPDATE: Dan Drezner and Robert Tagorda provide two counterexamples. Dan points to Bush’s pressure on Egypt to release democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, while Robert reminds us that Bush told the leader of Tunisia to his face about the importance of “a press corps that is vibrant and free.”
Fair enough, although I wonder if these examples don’t actually make Josh’s point for him. If that’s all Bush has done in three years in office, it’s a little hard to claim that democracy promotion is one of his top priorities, isn’t it?