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Thursday Sep 21, 2006

Calling Out Democracy Hypocrisy

Chapter 4 of Wait! Don't Move To Canada! is titled "Reject Republican Democracy Hypocrisy," and once again, we are witnessing that hypocrisy.

As today's W. Post reports, the White House is sitting quietly as a democratically elected leader is ousted, and tanks roll through Thailand.

Unlike Dubya's prior support for the successful coup in Haiti and the unsuccessful coup in Venezuela, the acquiescence to this coup doesn’t appear rooted in ideology.

Dubya wanted coups in Haiti and Venezuela because those were leftist governments not considered to be on the Republican team. Whereas Thailand's ousted prime minister Thaksin was a Bush ally, who shared Bush's interest in accumulating unchecked, unbalanced executive power.

But Thaksin had been losing public support in certain quarters, and the military coup was blessed by the king.

So the Bushies have probably concluded they can also do business with whoever comes next, and that's what's important to them.

Not whether he or she's elected. Not whether democratic institutions will be strengthened in the name of long-term stability.

They didn't care before when Thaksin was curtailing freedom, and they don't care now when the military is deciding who is or isn't in charge.

This isn't new. Bush has screwed over friendly, democratically elected heads of state before. Witness how he undermined the Lebanese Prime Minister during the recent conflict with Israel.

And the support Bush gives autocrats around the world is considerable. Today's W. Post piece goes over some of it, as does my book.

Thailand may not be on the radar of most Americans. Its relevance to our lives isn’t obvious (though there is a local Muslim separatist insurgency with ties to international militants, albeit not necessarily operational ties.)

However, as I detail in the book, it's important to establish that the Republican Party is wholly insincere about promoting democracy.

Otherwise, we will not be able to make our support of democracy -- credible democracy, not the phony kind imposed at gunpoint -- a key foreign policy objective that favorably distinguishes liberals from conservatives.

In turn, it's important to consistently call attention to examples of Democracy Hypocrisy -- like the White House's pathetic reaction to the Thailand coup -- even if there isn't much short-term political payoff.

Because it will serve the long-term need of articulating a liberal foreign policy alternative from the conservative Democracy Hypocrisy that is fostering instability around the world.

And without a clearly understood foreign policy vision, it is much harder to earn the public's trust on national security issues.

This is particularly crucial right now, because Republicans have been losing the public's trust on national security.

Today's CBS/NY Times poll finds that support for the GOP on fighting terrorism is down to 42%, versus 37% for Democrats: "nowhere near the margin they once enjoyed".

That's an indication we may be nearing a moment when the public becomes open to shifting their perceptions concerning which party is best for national security.

That doesn't mean we should sit back and expect those polls to keep moving in our direction.

If we want to close the deal, we must meet the moment, and offer an alternative as public minds become open -- ideally, an alternative based on the liberal principles of promoting credible democracy as well as eradicating poverty.

Posted by Bill Scher on Sep 21, 2006 email post email Spotlight / / You are in Foreign Policy/ Wait! Don't Move To Canada!
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