The Dangers of Democratic Delusions

| March 2009
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The United States has the world’s most sophisticated intelligentsia, including the finest universities to spawn the very best ideas. Despite this advantage, however, it can be seized by absolutely foolish notions. The liberation of Iraq was one such idea. Many influential American policy-makers and opinion-makers believed that an army of primarily U.S. and European soldiers (perceived, no doubt, as “Christian” soldiers) marching into an Islamic land in the twenty-first century would be received with rose petals thrown at their military boots. The price that America has paid for this delusion has been a huge loss in lives and cash, and deep national divisions. The Iraqi people have suffered even more.

America could well pay an equally heavy price for its latest delusion that the solution to the world’s problems is to launch a “League of Democracies” to enable liberal democracies to work together to promote their values and interests. There can be no doubt that this idea will be disastrous. It will divide the world at the very time that a new global consensus needs to be created to address pressing global challenges: global warming, financial crises, epidemics, and nuclear proliferation, to name just a few. More dangerously, the 90 percent of the world’s population who live outside the West will see this as a last-ditch effort by the West to continue to dominate world history, at a time when the era of Western domination is ending. This idea will alienate precisely the populations that need to feel included in any global solution: the 1.3 billion Chinese and the 1.2 billion Muslims. So why are leading American minds advocating it?

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Category: Issue 23.1, Roundtable: Can Democracies Go It Alone?

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