News Analysis

News: Democracy


>> = Important Articles

** = Major Articles


Supplemental Articles in a separate file (click here to read)


>>Freedom in the World 2009: Freedom Retreats for Third Year (Freedom House, 090112)

>>Findings of Freedom in the World 2008 — Freedom in Retreat: Is the Tide Turning? (Freedom House, 080100)

>>Freedom House Notes Progress in Global Freedom in New Report (Christian Post, 051219

**What do the U.S. mid-term elections, China and Omar Khadr have in common? Mark Steyn knows (National Post, 101106)

**Chinese Christians Prepare to Mark 20th Tiananmen Square Anniversary (Christian Post, 090602)

**Twitterers Break Silence on Tiananmen Square’s ‘Tank Man’ (Foxnews, 090603)

**Freedom Beats a Global Retreat (, 090129)

**Tribal Tension in Kenya. . . and the delusion of African democracy. (National Review Online, 080124)

**Why the Left Hates Democracy (, 080103)

**Don’t blame democracy (, 060224)

**The liberation of Iraq started on July 4, 1776 (London Times, 030414)

**Sharansky Part 1: Democracy Defended (National Review, 041206)

**Sharansky Part 2: The Power of Freedom: What Soviet dissidents, Scoop Jackson, and Reagan understood. (National Review Online, 041204)

**Sharansky Part 3: The Great Debate: Why the skeptics are wrong. (National Review Online, 041209)





>>Freedom in the World 2009: Freedom Retreats for Third Year (Freedom House, 090112)


Freedom retreated in much of the world in 2008, the third year of global decline as measured by Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties which released today. Sub-Saharan Africa and the former Soviet Union saw the most reversals, while South Asia showed significant improvement.


“The advance of freedom in South Asia was a rare bright spot in a year that was otherwise marked by setbacks and stagnation,” said Freedom House Director of Research Arch Puddington, who pegged the start of the global downturn to the period directly following the “color revolutions” in Europe. “Powerful regimes worldwide have reacted to the ‘color revolutions’ with calculated and forceful measures designed to suppress democratic reformers, international assistance to those reformers and ultimately the very idea of democracy itself.”


Freedom in the World 2009 examines the state of freedom in all 193 countries and 16 strategic territories. The survey analyzes developments that occurred in 2008 and assigns each country a freedom status — either Free, Partly Free or Not Free based on a scoring of performance in key freedoms.


The overview includes an analysis of changes during the Bush Administration and suggests priorities for the incoming Obama Administration and the leaders of other established democracies. The survey firmly rejects the premise that engaging with authoritarian leaders means ignoring their policies of domestic repression.


“At a time when democracy’s antagonists are increasingly assertive and its supporters are in disarray, the new administration must focus on the need to protect fundamental freedoms and support the frontline defenders and advocates,” said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director.


The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy will host an event on the survey’s findings in Taipei, Taiwan January 13 at 9 a.m. at the Far Eastern Plaza Hotel. Taiwan was chosen as the locale for the release because of its strategic position in Asia, not only geographically and economically, but also as one of its most vibrant democracies.


Although setbacks in 2008 did not represent substantial declines for most countries, setbacks were numerous and affected most regions. Overall, 34 countries registered declines in freedom and 14 registered improvements.


Three countries saw declines in scores that resulted in status changes: Afghanistan, which moved from Partly Free to Not Free; Mauritania, Partly Free to Not Free; and Senegal, Free to Partly Free. Three countries, all from South Asia, moved from Not Free to Partly Free: Pakistan, Maldives and Bhutan. Two countries in Western Europe—Italy and Greece—experienced modest declines.


Key global findings include:


•         Free: The number of countries judged by Freedom in the World as Free in 2008 stands at 89, representing 46 percent of the world’s countries and 46 percent of the global population. The number of Free countries declined by one from 2007.


•         Partly Free: The number of Partly Free countries is 62, or 32 percent of all countries assessed by the survey and 20 percent of the world’s total population. The number of Partly Free countries increased by two.


•         Not Free: The report designates 42 countries as Not Free, representing 22 percent of the total number of countries and 34 percent of the world population. Nearly 60 percent of this number lives in China. The number of Not Free countries declined by one.


•         Electoral Democracies: The number of electoral democracies dropped by two and stands at 119. Developments in Mauritania, Georgia, Venezuela and Central African Republic disqualified them from the electoral democracy list, while Bosnia-Herzegovina and Bangladesh became electoral democracies.


Key regional findings include:


•         Worst of the Worst: Of the 42 countries designated Not Free, eight received the survey’s lowest possible ranking for both political rights and civil liberties: North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Libya, Sudan, Burma, Equatorial Guinea and Somalia. Two territories are in the same category: Tibet and Chechnya. Eleven other countries and territories received scores that were slightly better: Belarus, Chad, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Zimbabwe, South Ossetia and Western Sahara.


•         Sub-Saharan Africa: Twelve countries and one territory—about one-fourth of the regional total—experienced setbacks in 2008. In addition to Senegal and Mauritania, declines were also registered in Burundi, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Namibia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Somaliland. The region’s downturn comes after several years of modest improvement. Positive developments include gains in Zambia, Comoros, Angola and Cote d’Ivoire.


•         Asia: The most significant progress occurred in South Asia, where several countries saw improvements linked to elections. In addition to significant improvements in Pakistan, Maldives and Bhutan, some progress was also seen in Nepal, Kashmir, Malaysia and Thailand. Declines were registered in Afghanistan, Burma, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Singapore and Tibet. China increased repression instead of delivering human rights reforms pledged in connection to hosting the Summer Olympics.


•         Former Soviet Union/Central and Eastern Europe: Non-Baltic countries of the former Soviet Union continued their decade-long decline, now ranking below Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East on several survey indicators. Russia and Georgia, which went to war over South Ossetia, were among the region’s notable declines, as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Moldova. Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe remains strong, despite setbacks in Bulgaria and Macedonia.


•         Middle East/North Africa: After several years of modest gains earlier in the decade, the Middle East/North Africa is now experiencing stagnation. Iraq is the only country to show improvement because of reductions in violence, political terror and government-sponsored Shia militias, although it retains its Not Free status. Jordan, Bahrain, Iran, the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli-Occupied Territories also declined.


•         Americas: The region managed to maintain its democratic character despite economic concerns, an increase in violent crime in some countries and the rise of populist demagogues. Paraguay and Cuba saw improvements in 2008, although the Castro government continues to be one of the world’s most repressive regimes. Colombia, Nicaragua, Mexico and Venezuela were among the countries registering declines.


•         Western Europe and North America: The region continues to earn the highest scores in Freedom in the World. The election of Barack Obama as U.S. president could lead to reforms of problematic counterterrorism policies. Two European countries experienced declines in 2008: Italy and Greece. The survey also voices concern about potential threats to freedom of expression in Canada and Great Britain.


Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties worldwide since 1972.




>>Findings of Freedom in the World 2008 — Freedom in Retreat: Is the Tide Turning? (Freedom House, 080100)


By Arch Puddington


The year 2007 was marked by a notable setback for global freedom. The decline, which was reflected in reversals in one-fifth of the world’s countries, was most pronounced in South Asia, but also reached significant levels in the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and North Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa. It affected a substantial number of large and politically important countries—including Russia, Pakistan, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria, and Venezuela—whose declines have wider regional and global implications. Other countries experienced reversals after a period of progress toward democracy, including pivotal states in the Arab Middle East.


While many more countries suffered declines than registered improvements, the degree of change reflected in some countries was modest while in others the decline was more substantial. The profile of world freedom as measured by the number of countries designated in Freedom in the World as Free, Partly Free, or Not Free changed little during the past year. There were, nonetheless, many and overwhelmingly negative changes within these broad categories. Furthermore, results for 2007 marked the second consecutive year in which the survey registered a decline in freedom, representing the first two-year setback in the past 15 years. In all, nearly four times as many countries showed significant declines during the year as registered improvements. Many countries that moved backward were already designated Not Free by the survey; there were, in other words, numerous examples of a worsening of already negative trends. In other cases, countries with recent records of improved democratic institutions were unable to sustain progress and gave clear signals of backsliding.


As the year drew to a close, a series of events served as stark reminders of the perilous condition of freedom in certain parts of the world:


* In Russia, parliamentary elections were held under patently unfair conditions.


* Democracy in Georgia, a key “color revolution” country, was sullied by the imposition of a state of emergency and a violent police crackdown on demonstrators.


* In Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in the context of a recent state of emergency, intense pressure on civil society and the judiciary, and rising terrorism by Islamic extremists.


* In Kenya, hundreds were killed in rioting and mayhem in the wake of highly credible reports of vote rigging by the government in the country’s presidential election.


Civil conflict was an important contributing factor to this year’s negative trajectory in South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The year also saw the intensification of an effort by authoritarian regimes to consolidate their power through the suppression of democratic opposition, civil society, and independent media—a process also known as the pushback against democracy. Freedom of association suffered a setback on a global scale, as governments in various regions initiated policies to weaken or neutralize nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), human rights monitoring groups, and trade unions. Especially important in carrying out this assault on civil society were a group of market-oriented autocracies and energy-rich dictatorships that combine elements of a capitalist economy with sophisticated techniques of political repression.


These were among the principal findings of Freedom in the World 2008, Freedom House’s annual survey of political rights and civil liberties worldwide.


The population of the world as estimated in mid-2007 was 6,604.9 million persons, who reside in 193 sovereign states. The level of political rights and civil liberties as shown comparatively by the Freedom House survey is:


Free: 3,028.2 million (46 percent of the world’s population) live in 90 of the states.


Partly Free: 1,185.3 million (18 percent of the world’s population) live in 60 of the states.


Not Free: 2,391.4 million (36 percent of the world’s population) live in 43 of the states.


A Record of the Survey

(population in millions)






Year under Review


Partly Free

Not Free

World Population


1,352.2 (24.83%)

2,403.3 (44.11%)

1,690.4 (31.06%)



1,046.2 (19.00%)

2,224.4 (40.41%)

2,234.6 (40.59%)



1,119.7 (19.97%)

2,243.4 (40.01%)

2,243.9 (40.02%)



1,114.5 (19.55%)

2,365.8 (41.49%)

2,221.2 (38.96%)



1,250.3 (21.67%)

2,260.1 (39.16%)

2,260.6 (39.17%)



1,266.0 (21.71%)

2,281.9 (39.12%)

2,284.6 (39.17%)



2,354.0 (39.84%) *

1,570.6 (26.59%)

1,984.1 (33.58%)



2,324.9 (38.90%)

1,529.0 (25.58%)

2,122.4 (35.51%)



2,465.2 (40.69%)

1,435.8 (23.70%)

2,157.5 (35.61%)



2,500.7 (40.79%)

1,462.9 (23.86%)

2,167.1 (35.35%)



2,717.6 (43.85%)

1,293.1 (20.87%)

2,186.3 (35.28%)



2,780.1 (44.03%)

1,324.0 (20.97%)

2,209.9 (35.00%)



2,819.1 (44.08%)

1,189.0 (18.59%)

2,387.3 (37.33%)



2,968.8 (45.97%)

1,157.7 (17.93%)

2,331.2 (36.10%)



3,005.0 (45.97%)

1,083.2 (16.57%)

2,448.6 (37.46%)



3,028.2 (45.85%)

1,185.3 (17.94%)

2,391.4 (36.21%)


* The large shift in the population figure between 1997 and 1998 is due to India’s change in status from Partly Free to Free



A particularly worrying phenomenon that emerges from the findings is the negative impact of powerful autocracies on smaller, less powerful neighboring countries. Russia provides diplomatic and political support to a number of brutal dictatorships and autocratic regimes on its borders, including Belarus and states in Central Asia, and puts pressure on nearby governments, such as Estonia and Georgia, whose policies or leaders it disapproves of. Iran and, to a lesser extent, Syria have supported antidemocratic forces in Lebanon, Iraq, and the Palestinian Authority. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has attempted to export his authoritarian brand of “21st Century Socialism” to other countries in South America, albeit with little success thus far. For its part, China has emerged as an impediment to the spread of democracy in East Asia and other regions, especially Africa. China has played a particularly negative role in Burma, where it sustains a brutal military dictatorship through economic and diplomatic support, and in North Korea, through its policy of forcibly returning those who flee the Pyongyang regime. In Africa, China provides various kinds of aid, including security assistance, to authoritarian countries and undermines the efforts of the United States, the European Union, and multilateral institutions to promote honest and transparent governance.


The Global Trend

Year Under Review


Partly Free

Not Free


















New and unstable democracies continue to be plagued by a host of problems stemming from a sharp and sometimes shocking increase in violent crime, often involving the narcotics trade, human trafficking, and organized criminal networks and exacerbated by corrupt or ineffectual police, a poorly functioning judiciary, and vigilantism. While the impact of crime on the public’s faith in democracy is a special problem in Latin America, it is also a growing phenomenon in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asian countries like the Philippines.


Results for 2007


The number of countries judged by Freedom in the World as Free in 2007 stood at 90, representing 47 percent of the world’s 193 polities and 3,028,190,000 people—46 percent of the global population. The number of Free countries did not change from the previous year’s survey.


The number of countries qualifying as Partly Free stood at 60, or 31 percent of all countries assessed by the survey, and they comprised 1,185,300,000 people, or 18 percent of the world’s total. The number of Partly Free countries increased by two from the previous year.


Forty-three countries were judged Not Free, representing 22 percent of the total polities. The number of people living under Not Free conditions stood at 2,391,400,000, or 36 percent of the world population, although it is important to note that about half of this number lives in just one country: China. The number of Not Free countries declined by two from 2006.


Tracking Electoral Democracy

Year Under Review

Number of Electoral








The number of electoral democracies dropped by two, and stands at 121. One polity, Mauritania, a Muslim-majority country in Africa, qualified to join the world’s electoral democracies in 2007. Developments in three countries—Philippines, Bangladesh, and Kenya—disqualified them from the electoral democracy list. The decline of these countries is significant given their size and the fact that two, Philippines and Kenya, were previously regarded as important additions to the democratic world and models for Asia and Africa.


Two countries—Thailand and Togo—experienced positive status changes, with both moving from Not Free to Partly Free. One territory, the Palestinian Authority, declined from Partly Free to Not Free. No country improved from Partly Free or Not Free to a designation of Free, or declined from Free to a designation of Partly Free or Not Free.


At the same time, the number of countries that experienced negative changes in freedom without meriting a status change far outweighed those that underwent positive changes: 38 countries showed evidence of declines in freedom, while only 10 showed positive shifts.


The year was notable for the failure of any of the more important repressive states to show signs of enhanced freedom. Likewise, not one of the countries that register the lowest possible scores in the Freedom House index—the “worst of the worst”—exhibited signs of improvement. This in itself represents a break from a trend, observable even in years when world freedom stagnated or declined, in which progress was registered in some of the world’s most tightly controlled dictatorships.


Important Trends


1. A resurgence of pragmatic, market-oriented, or energy-rich dictatorships. Most visibly in Russia and China, but also in other parts of the world, governments are trying to harness the power of the marketplace while maintaining closed political systems. Strengthened by petroleum-based riches or capital amassed through long-term trade surpluses, these autocracies are unapologetic and increasingly assertive, at home and abroad, in declaring that the paradigm of rights-based governance as the international community has long understood it is not relevant for the 21st century. Diplomatic and political efforts to undermine norm-setting bodies such as the UN Human Rights Council and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are advancing as a consequence, with implications for the fate of freedom in a growing number of countries.


2. Decline in freedom of association. As repressive regimes move to strengthen their authority and eliminate sources of political opposition, they increasingly target human rights organizations, advocates of government transparency, women’s rights groups, representatives of minority groups, and trade unions. While the countries of the Middle East have the worst record on adherence to established standards for freedom of association, Africa and the non-Baltic countries of the former Soviet Union also have poor scores for associational rights.


3. Weak governance. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s countries rank as electoral democracies, but many score poorly on government effectiveness and accountability. Corruption, lack of transparency, and concentration of power in the hands of the executive or nonelected forces represent major obstacles to the consolidation of democracy in Latin America, Africa, and Asia.


4. Islamic extremism. While the world has been spared terrorist attacks of the magnitude of 9/11, the violent actions of Islamic radicals remain an important challenge to freedom, both in Muslim countries and in the wealthy democracies. Terrorist violence remains a serious problem in Iraq, is a growing threat to freedom in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and continues to plague Algeria, Lebanon, and other countries of the Arab Middle East. In Europe, during the past year alone, arrests for terrorist plots or actual attacks were made in Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and Denmark. The threat of terrorism often provides an unjustified rationale for repressive emergency laws, torture, and the suppression of opposition political parties.


Asia-Pacific: Military Rule, Ethnic Conflict, and Religious Strife


A number of Asia’s most important countries suffered freedom setbacks during 2007, many of which were concentrated on the Indian subcontinent. Bangladesh experienced a reversal due to the introduction of military rule in January, the suspension of scheduled elections, and the curtailment of civil liberties and press freedom. In Pakistan, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto was the climax of a chaotic year marked by martial law, restrictions on freedom of assembly, curbs on the media, suspension of the constitution, and the wholesale replacement of Supreme Court justices and many lower court judges who were deemed unfriendly to the country’s president, Pervez Musharraf. Sri Lanka suffered from sustained pressure on human rights activists and other critics of government policy amid a worsening military conflict with the Tamil Tiger rebels, in which the combatants have committed numerous human rights abuses. In Afghanistan, the escalating insurgency by the Taliban and other antigovernment forces contributed to an environment of fear and insecurity in certain regions and impeded the ability of civil society and humanitarian groups to operate freely throughout the country.


For the second consecutive year, the survey noted a decline in freedom for the Philippines, due to serious, high-level corruption allegations; the pardon of former president Joseph Estrada; and a spike in political killings in the run-up to legislative elections. Burma, which has long ranked among the world’s most repressive regimes, showed further decline amid the violent dispersal of peaceful demonstrations and massive economic exploitation. Malaysia also registered a decline thanks to a Supreme Court decision that eliminates Muslims’ right to convert, an accelerating judicial crisis, a crackdown on online media, and the suppression of opposition-led protests.


China remained the world’s most populous Not Free country. While there had been expectations that the political leadership would grant concessions on human rights or initiate modest democratic reforms in advance of the 2008 summer Olympics, the regime in fact continued to crack down on political activists, internet journalists, and human rights lawyers. In some ways, preparations for the Olympics contributed to the country’s antidemocratic environment, as the leadership forcibly moved millions of people to make way for Olympic facilities and placed new restrictions on ethnic and religious minorities. China intensified its pressure on Tibet, which suffered a further loss of freedom due in part to the acceleration of a government program aimed at forcibly resettling nomadic herders.


The major positive development in the region was the improvement of Thailand from Not Free to Partly Free, due largely to the loosening of military rule and the holding of parliamentary elections that, despite efforts by the military to skew the results, were widely judged to be free and competitive. But the elections’ outcome—a triumph for a party aligned with Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister until his ouster by a 2006 military coup—suggests possible future problems for Thailand’s democracy. The country’s Freedom in the World rating had deteriorated during Thaksin’s term as prime minister, and his leadership style included disturbing elements of populism and authoritarianism. Furthermore, the country’s high level of political polarization remains a serious obstacle to democratic consolidation.


There are, of course, a number of democratic success stories in Asia. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India, and more recently Indonesia have all moved into the ranks of Free countries. But the region’s current trajectory is distinctly disturbing. A combination of authoritarianism, ethnic and communal hatred, military involvement in political affairs, and radical Islam has substantially blocked democratic development. The recent decline in freedom in the region seems even more unsettling when Australia, New Zealand, and the small island nations of the Pacific are set aside and analysis is limited to Asia’s core countries. For the year 2007, the breakdown for the core Asia countries is 6 Free, 9 Partly Free, and 9 Not Free.


The Russian Neighborhood: From Bad to Worse


No event more vividly illustrates the problems faced by the non-Baltic countries of the former Soviet Union than Russia’s parliamentary elections. In certain superficial ways, the Russian vote resembled elections in established democracies. Several parties put forward candidates for parliamentary seats, held rallies, and made promises to the electorate, and the press eagerly covered the pageantry surrounding the campaign. But as numerous independent monitoring organizations testified, the elections were an illusory spectacle, as parties and candidates who challenged the policies of President Vladimir Putin were eliminated through bureaucratic manipulation. The press—largely controlled by the state or supporters of the president—devoted overwhelming coverage to Putin and his allies, and measures were implemented to keep the opposition impotent, fragmented, or tame.


Russia exerts influence in the former Soviet Union by using its abundant oil and gas resources to reward politically friendly, autocratic countries and pressure states that are not willing to bow to the Kremlin. In Central Asia, the Russian regime has provided political, moral, and material support to the authoritarians who dominate the region. For example, Russia has enhanced its relationship with Uzbek President Islam Karimov, whose security forces are believed to have massacred some 500 protesters in the eastern city of Andijan in May 2005. Russia has been seeking a de facto monopoly on gas exports from Uzbekistan with the understanding that Moscow would help the Karimov regime in rebuffing domestic protests and criticism from the West. In Kyrgyzstan, Russia has used its influence to obstruct political reforms in the wake of the country’s 2005 political opening, which was unique in Central Asia.


Three of the region’s countries—Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan—have consistently ranked among the world’s most repressive societies. In Uzbekistan, Karimov was reelected for a third term in 2007 with well over 90 percent of the vote, in blatant violation of a constitutional two-term limit.


Russia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan—all countries with entrenched authoritarian leaderships and growing energy wealth—registered declines in 2007. Perhaps more disturbing was the substantial reversal suffered by Georgia, a country that had made important strides toward democracy since its 2003 Rose Revolution. Georgia saw both its political rights and its civil liberties ratings decline due to the imposition of a state of emergency following antigovernment demonstrations in November, restrictions on press freedom, and a systematic campaign to marginalize the political opposition. Kyrgyzstan registered a decline in political rights after independent monitoring organizations pointed to serious flaws in the 2007 parliamentary elections, which resulted in a near clean sweep for the ruling coalition.


In contrast to the generally poor state of freedom in the former Soviet Union, the countries of the Baltic region, Central Europe, and, with a few exceptions, the Balkans, continued to move ahead with the process of democratic consolidation. For 2007, Latvia registered a slight decline due to a series of corruption scandals that implicated high-ranking officials. Poland showed a modest gain because of improvements in press freedom and freedom of association. Bosnia and Herzegovina experienced a decline in political rights due to a greater degree of intervention by the High Representative appointed by the international commission that guides the peace process.


Even as the countries of the former Soviet Union were negatively influenced by the Russian model, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe benefited from proximity to Western Europe and, for most, membership in the European Union. EU membership has been instrumental in persuading them to stem corruption, ensure a level political playing field, limit discrimination against minorities, and adopt responsible economic policies. While countries like Hungary, Poland, and Romania have experienced periods of political upheaval and discontent over living standards, corruption, and other matters, their political systems have displayed a resilience that is notably missing in formerly communist countries that lack such close ties to the established democracies of Western Europe.


Middle East: After Gains, Disappointment


The period of modest gains that had marked the region’s political landscape in the post-9/11 period came to an end in 2007, with freedom experiencing a decline in a number of important countries and territories. Major declines were noted in both the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli-Occupied Territories. The Palestinian Authority experienced a change in status, from Partly Free to Not Free, due to the collapse of a unified government precipitated by the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, the inability of elected representatives to govern in either Gaza or the West Bank, and the suppression of the political opposition in both areas. In the Israeli-Occupied Territories, a combination of Israeli military incursions, restrictions on the delivery of food aid, and violent dispersals of protests led to a decline in the rating for civil liberties.


Declines were also registered in three of the most important countries of the Arab Middle East: Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria. Egypt showed a decline for several reasons: repression of journalists; suppression of the political opposition, including both democratic parties and those aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood; and further restrictions on the independence of the judiciary, a development that came in response to judges’ having challenged the unchecked power of President Hosni Mubarak. Lebanon’s decline was due to a deadlock over the selection of the president and continued violence directed at officials and journalists who have opposed Syrian domination of the country’s political life. In Syria, freedom moved in a negative direction because of a renewed crackdown on members of the democratic opposition. Tunisia, long one of the region’s most repressive states, experienced a decline in political rights due to credible reports of rampant corruption involving the family of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.


Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority had all made progress on the Freedom House index in recent years—in the case of the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon, significant progress. With the exception of the Palestinian Authority, the reversals in 2007 were not enough to cause major decreases in freedom scores.


The reasons for the Middle East’s political stagnation are many and complex. Most important is the unwillingness of autocratic leaders like Egypt’s Mubarak or Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to cede power to forces outside their tight circle. Another is the influence of dictatorships like Iran and, to a lesser extent, Syria, on their smaller and less powerful neighbors. Both countries have worked assiduously to undermine forces committed to democracy and independence in Lebanon, Iraq, and the Palestinian Authority. Likewise, radical Islam remains a factor behind the region’s poor performance. The presence of movements committed to violent jihad poses a threat to the security of ordinary people and provides an excuse for the enactment of authoritarian emergency measures by rulers bent on suppressing all sources of political opposition.


Latin America: Democratic Stability Still Elusive


While Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dominated the headlines during 2007, the more significant story was the durability of the region’s democratic institutions in the face of multiple problems. Among the major challenges is Chavez’s drive to export his authoritarian brand of socialism to the rest of Latin America. Thus far he has largely failed in this endeavor. Although politicians who claim to admire Chavez won presidential races in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua in 2005 and 2006, none will be able to count on a similar oil-based revenue windfall to implement unsustainable economic policies, and at least in Bolivia and Nicaragua, more formidable opposition forces exist to challenge executive power. Latin America today is largely governed by parties of the center-left or center-right that have demonstrated a commitment to the electoral process, freedom of expression, and a broad range of civil liberties.


Chavez, who has centralized substantial power in the president’s office as part of an overall drive to weaken Venezuela’s democratic institutions, suffered a major setback when voters narrowly rejected a constitutional referendum that would have eliminated presidential term limits, added yet more authority to the executive branch, and enshrined various measures of economic populism in law. While the referendum results indicated the resilience of civil society, Freedom in the World judged that freedom in Venezuela remained under duress, pointing to pressures on freedom of assembly, the independent press, and academic freedom. Nicaragua also suffered a decline due to excessive concentration of authority in the executive branch and the adoption of a law that criminalized abortion under all circumstances. On the positive side, Haiti showed signs of modest progress due to enhanced political stability and an improved security environment in urban areas.


In addition to the kind of leftist populism embodied in the Chavismo phenomenon, Latin America faces serious obstacles to stability including entrenched corruption, an upsurge in criminal activity, and a dysfunctional judicial system. Even as the region boasts the freest political environment in its history, many countries suffer from the worst rates of violent crime in the world, a problem that contributes to the ambivalence toward democracy professed in public opinion surveys. Latin America also continues to face high levels of poverty, economic insecurity, and inequality. The fact that democracy is almost universally upheld in a region that was only recently dominated by juntas and strongmen is an impressive achievement, but the consolidation of these gains is unlikely without greater physical and economic security, equality of opportunity, and the rule of law.


Africa: Freedom Falters Amid Continued Instability and Intolerance


While in the last several years the sub-Saharan region has made incremental if uneven progress, the year 2007 saw the deterioration of freedom on the continent. Fifteen countries in sub-Saharan Africa registered reversals of sufficient magnitude to be noted in the survey, while six countries registered improvements.


One country, Togo, moved from Not Free to Partly Free after holding its first genuinely free legislative elections. Mauritania, after holding presidential elections deemed by outside observers to be fair and competitive, registered enough improvement in the political rights arena to be designated an electoral democracy. Two other countries that showed major improvements were former conflict zones: Cote d’Ivoire, where the signing of peace accords led to improvements in civil liberties, and Sierra Leone, which registered gains in political rights after holding free and competitive elections and experiencing a peaceful transfer of power. Civil liberties improved in Mozambique as a result of gains in press freedom, including the prosecution of those responsible for the murder of an investigative journalist. Rwanda registered modest improvements due to enhanced political pluralism.


Unfortunately, these gains were more than offset by declines in the region. Given the diverse set of countries in question, no major unifying trend can explain all the downturns. However, political manipulation of ethnic and regional tensions and political intolerance by many of the region’s leaders were clearly important contributing factors in a number of countries. The most significant decline occurred in Kenya, due to credible reports of vote-rigging in the presidential contest and the violence triggered by the official results. Two other large countries, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Nigeria, also moved in the wrong direction. Political rights in the DRC declined as a result of the forced exile of the chief opposition leader and the renewal of factional fighting. Hopes that Nigeria’s first transition between elected civilian administrations would enhance the country’s nascent democracy were dashed when presidential, state, and legislative elections were marred by massive fraud, vote-rigging, and violence. The crisis in the Darfur region of Sudan continued to have negative spillover effects on freedom in neighboring Chad and Central African Republic; internal conflict, widespread corruption, and growing political intolerance led to ratings declines for both countries. Two Sahelian countries that had made gains in recent years, Mali and Niger, registered declines in civil liberties due to restrictions on the press and growing instability in their northern territories. In East Africa, Somalia’s already low score declined further amid widespread chaos and violence. Other countries that showed declines included Malawi, Cameroon, Comoros, the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, and Madagascar.


United States and Western Europe: Coping With Terrorism and Immigration


Both North America and, with a few exceptions, Western Europe received the highest possible ratings for political rights and civil liberties on the Freedom House index. But while these countries have maintained their commitment to democracy and human rights in the face of significant challenges, the flawed response to an upsurge in immigration has revealed potentially serious imperfections in their democratic systems, especially in Western Europe. Furthermore, the developed democracies continued to grapple with multiple problems posed by the continued threat of Islamic terrorism.


While the United States has adopted the most controversial counterterrorism policies, Europe has faced the most imminent danger since the 9/11 attacks. Several European countries, most notably the United Kingdom, have toughened their security policies, but Western Europe in general has not significantly weakened the core institutions of civil liberties. In the United States, by contrast, policies set down by President George W. Bush and, to a lesser extent, enacted by Congress have been sharply criticized by civil libertarians. These include denial of habeas corpus rights to detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military base, extraordinary renditions, warrantless surveillance of American citizens, and various sections of the USA PATRIOT Act. A number of the most disputed policies have been eliminated or softened by Congress and especially by the judiciary.


Europe seems to have struck a fine balance between security needs in an age of terrorism and the individual rights of citizens, but it has fared less well in dealing with an influx of immigrants, many of whom come from Muslim countries in North and sub-Saharan Africa. Political parties whose principal reason for existence is hostility to immigrants have emerged throughout Europe and have achieved substantial electoral support in a few countries. Switzerland suffered a slight decline in freedom in 2007 due to a rise in anti-immigrant hate crimes and an atmosphere of hostility driven by the increasingly popular People’s Party.


Europe’s ability to solve its immigration dilemma is hampered by the inability of many countries to decide whether they want foreigners to become citizens and assimilate into society. Meanwhile, there have been a string of controversies over such issues as Muslim girls wearing headscarves in school, the construction of large mosques in cities that historically have been overwhelmingly Christian, and journalists publishing material that Muslims deem offensive to their faith.


The United States also confronts an immigration problem, though it is different in nature from that facing Europe. By global standards, the United States has done an impressive job in assimilating wave after wave of immigrants into its political system, social structure, and economy. In recent years, however, Americans have become increasingly intolerant of undocumented workers, the bulk of whom come from Mexico and other Latin American countries. Immigration emerged as a major issue ahead of the 2008 presidential election, with candidates putting forward various schemes to prevent illegal migrants from crossing the country’s southern border. While the Bush administration has backed legislation that would offer a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants already living in the United States, the policies adopted so far have been almost entirely punitive: the erection of a fence to separate the United States from Mexico, raids on enterprises suspected of employing illegal aliens, and the deportation of those without proper documents, including some with long-standing ties to their U.S. communities.


Conclusion: Democrats Under Duress


For the past few years, and especially since Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution, a number of the world’s most important autocracies have engaged in what has been called a pushback against democracy promotion. The pushback differs from past strategies of repressive regimes in that it relies on the use of legal restrictions, tax investigations, bureaucratic regulations, and the like to neutralize opposition political parties and civil society organizations that seek political change, rather than rougher techniques like imprisonment, exile, or murder.


The rationale for pushback policies advanced by the authorities in Russia, Venezuela, Iran, and elsewhere is that they are necessary to prevent outside forces, primarily the United States, from meddling in their sovereign affairs through the support of dissidents, human rights groups, and NGOs. In reality, the main target of this offensive is not the United States but the domestic advocates of democracy—those who are waging the on-the-ground struggle for fair elections, honest government, minority rights, women’s equality, and freedom of expression.


During 2007, autocrats in various settings repeatedly singled out democracy advocates for especially harsh treatment. In Russia, the Putin regime went out of its way to force parties and candidates with strong democratic credentials off the parliamentary ballot. It has aggressively sought to eliminate or neutralize NGOs that seek political reform, while at the same time treating Communists, xenophobes, and outright racists with tolerance. In China, the harsh treatment meted out to scholars, activists, and journalists who publicly press for democratic improvements is exceeded only by the crackdown on proponents of increased autonomy for Tibet or Xinjiang. In Egypt, the Mubarak government has been as zealous, if not more so, in silencing those who advocate for peaceful democratic reform as it has been in suppressing the Muslim Brotherhood. Under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran has launched an all-fronts offensive against those who speak out for change, including members of democratic parties, students, trade unions, academics, and advocates of women’s rights.


Yet even as autocrats fine-tune the mechanisms of repression and control, the past year brought impressive and inspiring examples of resistance from those who cherish freedom. Consider the following:



To these champions of freedom can be added a number of others: bloggers and human rights lawyers in China, monks in Burma, trade unionists in Zimbabwe, and students in Bangladesh.


The accusation that democracy campaigners are serving the interests of foreign powers is not only untrue, it completely distorts the goals and methods of today’s dissidents. Indeed, it is too often the case that democracy’s advocates are ignored by the outside world, governments, and the public alike. Today’s generation of democratic dissidents work both in anonymity and—in Iran, China, and elsewhere—under extreme duress.


The achievements of these democracy movements represent grounds for optimism in an otherwise unimpressive year. But they need the support of their natural allies in the democratic world, including, and indeed especially, advocates of democracy outside government. At a minimum, those who are taking risks for freedom require the kind of protection that only outside attention guarantees, the kind of support that sustained Lech Walesa and Nelson Mandela in a previous era.


We should remember that freedom endured many dark days during the time of Mandela and Walesa, much darker than is the case today. Then, as now, many asked whether the tide had turned against freedom. Some suggested, as many do today, that a society’s history or culture could render it inhospitable terrain for democratic development. We also hear again the argument that the democratic world should ignore incidents of repression on the grounds that our involvement will only make matters worse. Fortunately, democrats rejected these arguments. They stayed the course and gave critical support to the dissidents and freedom campaigners in Poland, Chile, South Africa, and elsewhere. The fact that democratic dissidents have thwarted autocrats in the current difficult atmosphere is an important accomplishment. The solidarity of democrats from around the world is essential if the broader momentum toward freedom is to be regained.




>>Freedom House Notes Progress in Global Freedom in New Report (Christian Post, 051219


Freedom House reported notable improvements in political rights and civil liberties around the world, particularly in the Middle East, in its annual survey on global freedom.


Released today, “Freedom in the World 2006” revealed a significant progress in Muslim dominated countries despite their lag behind other global regions. The report noted a 20% decrease in the number of “not free” countries in the Middle East and increases in “free” and “partly free” nations as well.


“The modest but heartening advances in the Arab Middle East result from activism by citizen groups and reforms by governments in about equal measures,” said Thomas O. Melia, acting executive director of Freedom House, in a public announcement. “This emerging trend reminds us that men and women in this region share the universal desire to live in free societies.


“As we welcome the stirrings of change in the Middle East, it is equally important that we focus on the follow-through in other regions and appreciate the importance of the continuing consolidation of democracy in Indonesia, Ukraine, and other nations.”


Overall, freedom has risen over the past 10 years. Out of 192 countries, free countries now number 89 as opposed to the 76 in 1995; and not free countries dropped from 53 to 45. The freedom report showed gains in 27 countries and setbacks in only nine.


Saudi Arabia and Iraq - declared as “not free” - were among the fewer countries with worsened political rights or civil liberties.


With “zero tolerance” for other religions – as International Christian Concern president Jeff King stated during a recent panel discussion on religious persecution – Saudi Arabia has had continuous reports on the persecution of Christians and women, torture, and religious discrimination through educational materials.


While human rights violations were reported in Iraq, the Muslim-dominated country has shown positive trends as it heads toward democracy and freedom for its people with the adoption of a constitution and the election of a new full-term parliament underway.


“Among other things, the past year has been notable for terrorist violence, ethnic cleansing, civil conflict, catastrophic natural disasters, and geopolitical polarization. That freedom could thrive in this environment is impressive,” stated Arch Puddington, director of research of Freedom House. “The global picture thus suggests that 2005 was one of the most successful years for freedom since Freedom House began measuring world freedom in 1972.”




**What do the U.S. mid-term elections, China and Omar Khadr have in common? Mark Steyn knows (National Post, 101106)

Kevin Libin


What do the Tea Party victories this week and Mark Steyn’s recent banishment from a municipally owned London, Ont. convention centre have in common? Ask Mr. Steyn and you might be surprised at how directly the two seemingly unrelated issues can be connected.


My big point is the unsustainability of the modern, Western democracy,” Mr. Steyn says, in Calgary this week to moderate a post-midterm-election panel, for the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy.


“In a sense, it’s the same problem everywhere, whether you’re talking about the Toronto mayoral election, or the U.S. mid-terms, or Monsieur Sarkozy’s very modest proposal to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.”


Mr. Steyn would say that, of course. The decline of Western civilization, and its attendant capitulation to artful and aggressive anti-Western forces, has been the Canadian-born journalist’s prophecy for years, laid out most starkly in his 2006 book, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. It envisions the United States as the only liberal power properly equipped, both demographically and psychologically, to withstand the undermining of its values by the growing global influence of Islamic fundamentalism.


Mr. Steyn has ended up, inadvertently, something of a martyr for his very own theory — albeit an irrepressibly cheerful martyr — charged by Muslims before human rights tribunals for offending Islam with his book, and having, as happened last week, booked appearances cancelled by publicly run venues for fear of the “security risk” Muslims and their supporters might present in response.


Mr. Steyn absorbs even seemingly discrete political issues—the Omar Khadr affair, the rise of Chinese naval power, the anti-austerity riots in Greece — into his overarching, rather “apocalyptic,” as he calls it, world view, easily. So easily, it’s tempting to imagine him in Glenn Beck territory, announcing at regular intervals “it’s all connected!” But Mr. Steyn has the demographic and economic data and logic to make an alarmingly compelling case for connecting the dots without even the aid of a chalkboard.


For one, he believes latest economic crisis represents “the first great demographic recession.” The scheme of Western nations to gorge on entitlement programs financed by debt to be paid for by children that, diminishing birth rates prove will not materialize, is rapidly unravelling.


“The entire Western world has for some time now voted itself a lifestyle it is not willing to pay for,” he says. The riots in Greece and France are the refusal of those societies to give up their freebies. In the United States, the interest payments on public debt borrowed from Beijing will in just five years be so large as to finance the entire budget of the Red Army which, it so happens, is becoming increasingly muscular in challenging American dominance in the Indian and Pacific oceans and the sea routes to the Middle East.


“This is the most ridiculous moment in global history where the dying empire is, in effect, funding the dominance of the would-be successor power.”


Where “money drains, power drains,” he argues, noting the way Washington strong-armed even its friend and ally, Britain, over the Suez Crisis, refusing to help prevent a run on the pound. China is neither a friend nor ally and it has, he believes, an interest in seizing its own Suez moment quickly and powerfully: It’s own demographic pinch-point looms only a few decades away.


What happened in the U.S. mid-term elections, however, was evidence, he believes, that Americans still value their survival over the ballooning handouts that make them vulnerable to decline.


“They’ve looked at their situation and decided in the last two years, Obama made the drift of recent decades explicit, and a lot of Americans woke up to that and decided they didn’t like where they were drifting to,” he says. “America was the only country in the Western world where, over the last two years, millions of people have taken to the streets and said ‘we could do just fine if you, the government, would just get the hell out of our pockets and stay out.’ “


Rates of public spending growth here in Canada, meanwhile, are only sustainable if we permit mass immigration, given that Canadian birthrate declines are more drastic than even America’s (where they hold, for now at least at roughly replacement levels). These days, that immigration comes from Muslim countries, something that has caused severe social unrest in European countries that have relied on a similar model.


“In the space of about 20 years, the Muslim community went from really nothing to overtake the well-established Jewish community in Toronto. And the idea that that’s simply just one more interesting exotic item in the Canadian salad bar—we would be extremely lucky if that were the case.”


Amsterdam, among the most liberal cities in the world, he points out, is suffering an epidemic of gay bashing from unassimilated Muslims. In Sweden, perhaps Europe’s most tolerant country, half the Jewish population of Malmo has fled after a sharp rise in Islamic anti-Semitic attacks.


“I was in Malmo a couple of weeks ago,” he says. “It’s future is as a Muslim city.”


That he considers Muslim fundamentalists an unwelcome element in liberal society is the kind of thing that gets Mr. Steyn so readily branded as a bigot, particularly in Canada where a worship of his most hated term “multiculturalism” has, he says, utterly shrivelled the limits on public discussion. That may, however, only prove his point.


“It’s a sick fetish,” he says. “The idea that multiculturalism simply on its own terms is a virtue in itself is completely preposterous.”


What the fact that 75% of Canada’s population growth relies on immigration says “in effect, is that tomorrow’s a crapshoot; tomorrow is whoever happens to turn up.”


When Immigration Minister Jason Kenney suggests, as he did this week that Canadians can choose between higher immigration levels, or having more children, he leaves out one option: for Canadians to stop spending at a rate that demands population growth. In any case, Mr. Steyn says, the fact that most immigrants bring behind them older or unproductive family members is just a way to “kick the can 10 years down the line and ensure there’s an even bigger population making demands upon the state for which you’ll have to bring in even more people.” Eventually, the pyramid scheme runs out. We are, he says, engaged in nothing less than “civilizational suicide.”


And this would be where the Khadr family comes in. Canadians have vaunted multiculturalism to such revered heights, he believes, that they can no longer recognize a traitor even when he’s on an Afghan battlefield attacking them. The Khadrs did not just give “aid and comfort to the Queen’s enemies,” Mr. Steyn argues. “They are the Queen’s enemies.”


Instead, diversity-obsessed Canadians have become generally sympathetic to the plight of Omar Khadr.


“How decayed have we become that we see this as an opportunity simply to trumpet our own moral vanity?” he says. “We moan that immigrants don’t assimilate, [but] when the guys you’re supposed to assimilate with are the same fellows who are holding up the Khadr family as the poster boys for all that’s virtuous in Canada, it’s not an assimilation issue, it’s a societal issue.”


And that is, you see, how it is, quite apparently, all connected.




**Chinese Christians Prepare to Mark 20th Tiananmen Square Anniversary (Christian Post, 090602)


As the 20th anniversary of the infamous Tiananmen Square massacre approaches, Chinese Christian leaders in America – many of whom were directly involved in the pro-democracy protest – are heading to Washington, D.C., to pray for a new era of hope and justice in communist China.


On June 4, the 20th anniversary of the bloody crackdown, Christian leaders from the United States and abroad will gather at the National Presbyterian Church to reaffirm a manifesto that calls for forgiveness, repentance, truth, justice and reconciliation in regards to the Tiananmen Square event.


“Prayer transcends history, politics and nationalities,” said Bob Fu, founder of ChinaAid Association and a former student leader in the Tiananmen Square movement.


“On the day of the 20th anniversary of the June 4th massacre, this historic international prayer gathering calls for repentance for apathy and silence before injustice, for reconciliation and re-formation for a higher calling," he added.


In 1989, tens of thousands of pro-democracy students and intellectuals gathered near Tiananmen Square in Beijing to demand democratic reform and economic change. In response, the Chinese government used military force, including tanks, to crush the student-led protest. It is estimated that up to 3,000 students were killed in the crackdown, and more than 10,000 were later executed by the government.


"China is at a crossroad,” said Fu, whose organization advocates on behalf of persecuted Christians and other religious minorities in China. “We pray in unity that the international community will choose to stand in true solidarity with China's freedom pursuers without any wavering so that a God-fearing, human rights and dignity-respecting new China will emerge as a blessing to the whole world in the 21st century."


To commemorate the internationally historic event, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held a hearing Tuesday for four former student leaders who shared their experiences and visions for the future of China.


Among the four were Bob Fu and Fang Zheng, whose legs were crushed by a military tank during the protest. Despite the loss of his legs, Fang broke two national records in the 1992 All-China Disabled Athletic Games. But the Chinese government has closely monitored him and kept him from participating in competitions.


He was forbidden to participate in the Far East and South Pacific region Games, and in the 2008 Special Olympics in Beijing.


The human rights commission of the U.S. House of Representatives also showed a screening of the Frontline documentary, “The Tank Man,” in the theater of the U.S. Capitol.


So far, more than 220 Chinese Christian leaders have signed the manifesto for the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square event. The majority of the signers were directly involved in the student movement and suffered for their participation.


The manifesto recalls the tragic events that occurred on June 4, 1989, and calls on Chinese Christians to take on social responsibility and promote righteousness, and to forgive their enemies.


“We yearn to make this appeal to all Chinese Christian churches around the globe,” reads the manifesto. “[T]o pray for the salvation of lost souls in our home country, for social justice and for the future of our race…”


Chinese Christians are encouraged to hold special prayer meetings to commemorate the June 4 Tiananmen Square event.




**Twitterers Break Silence on Tiananmen Square’s ‘Tank Man’ (Foxnews, 090603)


BEIJING —  Twenty years ago he was the ultimate symbol of a peaceful democratic protest that went terribly, fatally wrong: a lone Chinese man in a simple white button-down shirt, carrying two plastic shopping bags, staring down a column of tanks.


Tank Man — his identity has never been determined — shot to worldwide fame that day for stopping those tanks, hours after they had brutally crushed student-led protests on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Hundreds — possibly thousands — died in the early-hours protest on June 4, 1989, an event that still remains a forbidden topic in Communist-governed China.


Pictures of Tank Man’s courageous efforts and other information about the crackdown are still officially censored in China. But now, 20 years on, modern technology and the wide reach of social networking sites like Facebook are providing curious students with the information they were previously denied.


“In this, 20 years ago, China strove for democracy and freedom. The government killed our compatriots, university students and citizens,” wrote a woman identifying herself as Bonnie Wong on the Facebook fan site Tank Man, one of several forums that have popped up ahead of the 20th anniversary of the crackdown.


“For 20 years, more than a few have entered the political arena who are the real villains, hypocrites who put on a false show of great peace and bury their consciences in a fiery pit. They control the government, they control media, they hold on to education, they control writing,” wrote another Facebook member who calls himself Jonathan Siew.


The vast majority of Chinese youth show no outward knowledge of what happened 20 years ago, a fact that pains the still-mourning relatives of those who were killed.


“This is a cruel reality — young people do not know the truth,” said Ding Zilin, a retired professor whose 17-year-old son was shot dead that night. “The government hides the truth from children and keeps it as a sort of forbidden zone. It isn’t taught in classrooms.”


But in the anonymity of the online world, Internet-savvy youths use mirror sites and proxy servers to explore alternative versions of the official history and to discuss their own frustrations with their government’s clumsy efforts at censorship.


China’s censorship of Web sites deemed harmful to its government and security is known as The Great Firewall; this week it blocked access to Twitter,, the photo-sharing Web site Flickr and, briefly, Hotmail. Other sites, including YouTube and blog providers like Blogspot and Wordpress, are routinely barred.


But frequent Twittering and Facebooking from Chinese users on the eve of the June 4 anniversary proved there are many ways around the censors’ efforts.


One Twitterer, identified as freemoren, posted regular updates of what was happening exactly 20 years ago on the square; others shared links to Western documentaries and newspaper articles about the Tiananmen massacre; some even speculated about how many packages Tank Man held in his hands as he faced down the tanks.


As in the West, there are few to no clues about Tank Man’s identity and fate. Chinese users are reluctant even to express their opinions on his actions, or to reveal their real identities, in case they are tracked down and questioned by police.


“Everyone, be very safety conscious!” a Chinese Twitterer identifying himself as flypig warned. Code words abound; the government censors are known as “river crabs,” and the anniversary itself is referred to as “TAM” or “ATM” or “8964.”


While information is available to those who seek it out, the next generation is still a long way from being able to express opposition to the Tiananmen massacre publicly. The square was under heavy security this week, and news crews were chased away. At least one prominent university’s student association was reported to be advising students to stay home and resist any temptation to protest.


“Most people are certainly affected by the public opinion control. The effect is obvious,” tweeted a Chinese user identifying himself as Hosven. “Few in our generation of people know about 8964. Those who understand its seriousness are less.”




**Freedom Beats a Global Retreat (, 090129)


by Claudia Rosett


Dictators are making a comeback.


Just four or five years ago, the headlines were full of democratic movements, notably the yellow, rose and cedar “revolutions” in the Ukraine, Georgia and Lebanon. The Taliban had been toppled, Saddam Hussein overthrown. Democratic stirrings were heralded from the streets of Iran and China to promises of reform in Saudi Arabia and Libya. Freedom was continuing a roll begun way back in the Reagan era. Tyrants were on the outs with polite society.


These days, dictators are on a roll. Among the many signs was last week’s op-ed in The New York Times by none other than Muammar Qaddafi, unrepentant and brutal tyrant in Tripoli for the past 40 years—though, for the purposes of this piece, the Times identifies him politely as “the leader of Libya.” I am still pondering that article, and not solely because this is the same New York Times that last fall rejected an op-ed by John McCain when he was running for president. Qaddafi used his patch of American editorial space to float a plan that would demographically blitz democratic Israel out of existence by setting up a single combined Palestinian-Israeli state, which he suggests we call “Isratine.”


It’s tempting simply to dismiss such stuff as unintended self-parody—whether on the part of Qaddafi, the Times or both. But it is also a token that tyrants are back in style, not only feeling safe to venture out of their spider holes but preening as elder statesmen and increasingly welcomed back to the parlors, editorial pages and negotiating tables of democratic high society.


Earlier this month, New York-based Freedom House reported that for the third straight year, freedom around the globe is, on balance, in retreat. In most of the former Soviet Union, this continues “a decade-long trend of regression.” In the Middle East, apart from improvements in Iraq, stagnation is the word. The brightest spot is South Asia, which saw improvements in Pakistan, the Maldives and Bhutan. But looming over that landscape is China, which “increased repression instead of delivering human rights reforms pledged in connection to hosting the Olympics.” Latin America and Africa registered net declines.


The basic cause for concern is not that there are more dictatorships than a few years ago, but that the global ethos has shifted. There is a growing swagger among despots.


Freedom House Research Director Arch Puddington highlights Iran, Russia, Zimbabwe and Venezuela as showing “enhanced anti-democratic tendencies. But these are surrounded as well by a scene of broader decline.”


Freedom House attributes part of this slide to “gathering authoritarian pushback against opposition parties, nongovernmental organizations and the press.” It might be tempting to blame such pushback on President Bush’s democracy agenda. Except, coinciding with this decline, Bush dropped the dead-or-alive approach to terrorists and their state sponsors during his second term, and soft-pedaled the democratization push. Increasingly during his final years in office, he relied on soft power, talks at Annapolis, talks with North Korea, talks via the European Union and the mechanisms of the predominantly undemocratic United Nations.


My diagnosis is that, since the wave of democratization that swept parts of Asia in the late 1980s and rolled on in 1991 to the Soviet collapse, despots have had a chance to rethink, regroup, and—like the opportunistic crowd they are—adapt. Where there is an opening, whenever the pressures come off, they tend to find and exploit it.


Along with the growing despotic gloom in Russia, much of the former Soviet Union features a lineup of rulers who have by now stayed on quite long enough to qualify not as transition leaders but entrenched despots. In Belarus, ranked year after year among the world’s most unfree regimes, President Alexander Lukashenko won power in a 1994 election and hasn’t budged since. In Central Asia, former Soviet Party bosses who took power amid the debris of the Soviet collapse are still in place 18 years later: Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan; Nursultan Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan.


In Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov—totalitarian star of a personality cult that rivaled Kim Jong Il’s in North Korea—died in 2006, only to be replaced by an almost equally repressive dictator, Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, who had been Niyazov’s protégé.


In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak rose to power following the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat. Today, a generation later, Mubarak rules there still, supported by U.S. subsidies, courted as an Arab moderate and surrounded by speculation that his son may succeed him.


Despotic dynasties are themselves on something of a roll. That Saudi Arabia’s royal family is a paragon of this style goes without saying. This, in itself, is part of the problem. In Azerbaijan, former Soviet Party boss Heydar Aliyev took power in a 1993 coup, cemented by an “election” in which he won almost 99% of the vote. He was succeeded in 2003 by his son, the current president, Ilham Aliyev.


In Syria, the elder totalitarian ruler Hafez Assad was replaced upon his death in 2000 by his son, the current totalitarian ruler, President Bashar Assad. In North Korea, the death of Great Leader Kim Il Sung in 1994 elided into the rule of his son, Kim Jong Il—possessor today of the nuclear weapons his father once dreamed of. To this list, Cuba adds a fraternal frill with Raul Castro, brother of the ailing Fidel, stepping in to ensure there is no interruption in the revolution that for 50 years now has repressed and beggared the people of Cuba.


Africa, despite promising spots here and there, remains home some to some of the world’s worst tyrants, both infamous (Sudan) and obscure (Cameroon). Zimbabwe, ruled for almost 30 years by Robert Mugabe, has degenerated from a breadbasket of southern Africa into a basket case of violence, hunger and cholera. Tucked away in relative obscurity, oil-rich Equatorial Guinea features yearly on the Freedom House roster as one of the “worst of the worst,” ruled by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, “who seized power in 1979 by deposing and murdering his uncle.”


Hanging over this entire scene is a growing haze of repressive understandings, both implicit and explicit. Freedom House notes the “continuation of a negative global trend with respect to freedom of expression, freedom of association and the rule of law.” In Europe and the U.K., politically correct fear of giving offense has put a damper on free speech and honest discourse. This reaches even into the U.S., where open debate has come under attack by way of both the same political correctness, souped up by “libel tourism,” and the risk of being summoned to appear before an overseas court.


Into this landscape comes President Obama, who has already made it his refrain that he wants “a new partnership” with the Arab and Muslim worlds, based on shared interests and “mutual respect”—a phrase he included in both his inaugural address and his first sit-down interview as president, which he gave Tuesday to a Dubai-based Arabic-language television channel, al-Arabiya.


“Respect” … for governments that brutalize their own people and in some spectacularly malignant cases terrorize the rest of us? Obama’s gamble is that if he extends a hand, which he has just done, the terror-sponsoring likes of Iran and Syria will not only unclench their fists but hold that pose.


Will Obama’s gesture be met in good faith? Tyrannies as a rule are driven by the appetites and survival instincts of their rulers, whose deepest needs are to keep control, deflect the domestic furies and justify brutality at home by conjuring enemies abroad. Witness the case of North Korea, which for 15 years has been reaping aid and concessions in exchange for a series of deals to abjure nuclear weapons—deals in which both Presidents Clinton and Bush effectively made the same offer Obama now holds out: that they would extend a hand if Kim would unclench his fist. North Korea has unclenched and re-clenched repeatedly. The result is a Pyongyang regime that has both garnered the benefits and carried on making bombs.


Partnerships with dictators are Faustian bargains. America swaps a piece of its soul in exchange for the hope that good times will follow. In this climate it is not the democrats but the dictators who are gaining advantage.




**Tribal Tension in Kenya. . . and the delusion of African democracy. (National Review Online, 080124)


By Stanley Kurtz


Call it the democracy delusion. We believed democracy was spreading. It was not. Now we worry democracy is retreating. It is not — since it barely advanced to begin with. We expect democracy to win the war on terror. It will not. We know from profoundest experience what democracy is, yet the very power of our experience blinds us. So achingly do we pine for a fantasy world of peaceful, loving polities that we see democracy in every passing stranger. Almost any Third World country can have us at hello. Just flash an ink-stained finger and Americans (Europeans too) open up their hearts, pocket-books, arsenals, whatever — only to be left alone, crying, and feeling used. But the truth is, we do it to ourselves.


Maybe Kenya will finally break our pattern of dangerously naive infatuation with pretend democracies — Kenya, Pakistan, and, of course, Russia . . . let’s be honest and include the Palestinian Authority and Lebanon, as well. Need I mention Iraq? OK . . . deep-breath, slowly, say it with me now: “My name is the United States of America, and I am addicted to phony democracies.”


Kenya may be the watershed. Democratic “setbacks” in Russia notwithstanding (how can you set back what was never there to begin with?), most Americans have seen democracy’s recent troubles as chiefly a Middle-Eastern phenomenon. Yet, as professional democracy promoters have known for some time — and as the broader public is only now beginning to grasp — the democratization project is in a worldwide stall.


Kenya’s reputation as a bulwark of stability and prosperity on an otherwise fragile continent gives a last-straw feel to the political collapse there. Kenya was the regional lifeline — the secure hub from which multinational corporations and NGO’s could funnel goods and aid to the impoverished, war-torn, sometimes barely governed states of East and Central Africa. And Kenya has been the base from which America’s anti-terror campaign in the region is coordinated. Now, a “democratic” election has put all this at risk.


Pre-Election Optimism

To witness the democracy delusion in all its splendor, let us return to the days before Kenya’s election. In its December 19 edition, the Economist, unrivaled for the quality of its foreign coverage, managed to publish an article on the upcoming Kenyan elections without even mentioning tribalism. “Jobs and corruption are the issues in a close-fought contest,” said the headline, as if there actually were issues at stake, rather than a tribal power struggle, and as if one side might be less corrupt than the other (the magazine itself cast doubt on the latter proposition).


The Economist noted in passing that challenger Raila Odinga had visited Wales and was intrigued by its national assembly as a model of regional devolution. The article also mentioned that incumbent president Mwai Kibaki might have trouble achieving the mandatory 25% vote in five of the country’s eight provinces. The overall effect was to make Kenya sound like a haven of constitutionalism and advanced democratic experimentation. Unfortunately, the Economist neglected to mention the bitter tribal rivalries that lay beneath all that high-minded constitutional talk. Kibaki is so dependent on support from Kenya’s dominant Kikuyu tribe that he can barely draw votes in non-Kikuyu provinces. Meanwhile, the Luo tribesman Odinga’s alliance of minority tribes looks to devolution to escape Kikuyu domination. These were huge danger signs that tribal consciousness had trumped national integration. Yet by foregrounding the democracy angle, the Economist missed the real story — the decidedly undemocratic tribalism driving (and undermining) all that electoral-constitutional maneuvering.


Democracy Defined

Only in a very narrow sense can we call African nations democracies. Strictly speaking, if a country selects its leaders through elections, it is democratic. Scholars separate this technical definition of democracy, as electoral rule, from the broader notion of “liberal democracy,” meaning a country that not only holds elections but also features multi-party competition, rule of law, freedom of the press, of speech, of religion, and a vital, buzzing “civil society” composed of competing advocacy groups. Arguments over democratization often turn on whether elections in an illiberal environment bring positive changes in their train, or whether it’s best to delay voting until civil society and political liberty are already in place.


It’s an important debate. Yet in common parlance, we take the word “democracy” to mean the whole “liberal” ball-of-wax. We can’t help but see long lines of Third-World voters patiently waiting at the ballot box as proof of a thirst for democracy — for everything beyond mere elections that the magical d-word means to Americans. This is our delusion. Long lines at polling places do not make Kenyans into liberty-loving American democrats, any more than reams of kente cloth transform American multiculturalists into Ashanti royalty.


Understanding the difference between liberal and illiberal democracy is only a first step toward fully appreciating the global challenge to democracy promotion. That’s because the rule of law, civil society, and individual liberties themselves depend upon a still deeper layer of cultural underpinning. Societies built around nuclear families, and around religious and cultural traditions that stress the freedom, equality, and sacredness of individual human beings, have the basic ingredients out of which rule of law, civic associations, political freedoms, and the modern state develop. Societies in which individual freedom is subordinated to the honor and advantage of the kin-group (and where non-Western religious and cultural traditions reinforce these values) are far less likely to develop genuine liberal democracy, or even a vibrant modern economy and state.


Nowadays, in both the postmodern academy and the liberal, universalizing state, drawing this sort of contrast between traditional and modern societies is taboo. Yet time and again, experience shows that culturally traditional societies have difficulties democratizing. Yes, there are exceptions, but those exceptions are usually explainable by exceptional circumstances, like defeat in all-out war, centuries under a certain style of imperial rule, or the existence of rough cultural equivalents to modern bureaucratic structures. That doesn’t mean change is impossible (the common straw-man version of the cultural argument). But it does mean we’ve been deluding ourselves about how difficult it is to bring about genuine political transformation, and how dangerous it is to rely on democratization as a short-term instrument of policy. Stay involved in the world? Absolutely. Use “democracy” as the critical determinant of that involvement? Not a good idea.


Potemkin Democracy

Everywhere in Africa, signs indicate that electoral democracy is but a precarious façade draped over largely illiberal, “traditional” societies. What’s amazing is how successfully we’ve ignored and minimized the evidence of democratic failure. (See “Africa Rising.”) While there are elections in Africa, there are virtually no genuinely contested multi-party campaigns. Kenya was a key exception. Now it simply proves the rule. Election violence and rigged voting? Kenya’s had them all along. We’ve simply chosen to discount them.


Here’s a typically hopeful pre-election article from the Christian Science Monitor. The usual-suspect quotes from African-democracy and human-rights activists are read from the script we so badly want to hear. My favorite line is, “No vote in Kenya is completely free of violence, but. . . . “ Pay no attention to that ethnic cleansing behind the curtain.


Contrast this with Travis Kavulla’s vastly more illuminating pre-election report from Kenya’s Rift Valley Province, a frequent site of electoral violence. Kavulla shows that democracy, Rift Valley–style, features dominant Kalenjin tribesmen terrorizing non-Kalenjins to drive them out of the area, in numbers sufficient to guarantee that Kalenjins dominate the election turnout. (Now that’s what I call a thirst for democracy.) As a reward, the attacking Kalenjins get to loot their victims’ cattle and crops. And for enabling this “democratic” gambit, local Kalenjin chiefs (who double as government officials) pocket kickbacks from tribal candidates who win national office (and who, of course, are expected to loot the public coffers for the sake of the folks back home). As the New York Times reported on January 21, the classic Rift Valley pattern seems to have more or less repeated itself in the most recent election.


The reason that incidents like this are usually “isolated” to places like Rift Valley is that many other provinces have a clearly dominant tribe. A bit of ethnic cleansing in Rift Valley has the potential to swing an election, whereas in Kikuyu-dominated Central Province, there’s really no point. President Kibaki is guaranteed to take about 97% of the vote there. Does this mean that elections in which violence is confined to provinces like Rift Valley are “mostly” free. Certainly not. As David Blair put it in the Telegraph, it means that elections in Kenya aren’t really elections at all. They’re actually “nothing more than a disguised national census. All they do is disclose the balance between the tribes.”


We’ve known for years how closely Kenyan voting patterns mirror tribal loyalties. Yet the Economist still finds it possible to ignore tribalism — easily the overwhelming determining factor in Kenyan elections — and to write as though “issues” were at stake instead. But when a closely fought election finally emerges (meaning an election between well-matched tribal coalitions), the latent potential for ethnic cleansing on a national scale emerges along with it. The tradition of election violence in Rift Valley Province turns out not to be an “isolated” anomaly at all. Instead, long-standing electoral violence in Rift Valley should have been understood as a revelation of the true (i.e. persistently false) nature of Kenyan democracy as a whole. Rift Valley is merely the spear-like tip of a vast, submerged, tribal iceberg.


Not that Kenyan elections haven’t been rigged from the get-go. Ethnic cleansing is just an extra layer of insurance over the usual practice of vote-padding. As Richard Dowden notes (in the best short article I’ve seen on the Kenyan elections), every election since the “restoration” of multi-party democracy in 1991 has been rigged to some extent. Until now, notes Dowden, “the margin of victory has always been so great that Western diplomats, keen to maintain stability, could claim that the cheating would not have made a difference to the result.” According to Dowden: “ ‘Voting broadly reflected the will of the people,’ was the “duplicitous phrase that allowed the ruling elite to play their quinquennial charade.” Only decades of averting our eyes from the overwhelming influence of tribalism, “isolated” election violence, and pervasive rigging has allowed us to delude ourselves into believing that Kenya is actually an up-and-coming African democracy. And when the self-deceptive façade that we ourselves have constructed (with the help of select African elites) finally collapses, revealing what has been glaringly present all along for anyone with eyes to see, we are dazed, shocked, and disappointed.


Lame Excuse

Not to worry. Industrious democratizers are even now spinning rationalizations for the whole election fiasco. In “Kenya stokes tribalism debate,” the BBC presents us with the most popular excuse. “Tribal violence spirals in Kenya” is a misleading headline for this election story, says BBC correspondent Mark Doyle. To his mind, the real headline ought to read, “Tribal differences in Kenya, normally accepted peacefully, are exploited by politicians hungry for power who can manipulate poverty-stricken population.” If not for all those vain, greedy, and manipulative leaders, explains Doyle, democracy in Kenya would be safe.


Doyle knows this because he’s consulted with “African intellectuals.” Unfortunately, as a group, African intellectuals are a highly problematic source of information on tribalism. As in Pakistan, Western reporters in Africa rely heavily on cosmopolitan informants, who are often deeply embarrassed by their own society’s traditionalism, and eager to deny or minimize it. What’s more, drawing Western investment to the continent depends on overcoming Africa’s culturally “backward” image (which is likely why the Economist hesitates to discuss tribalism).


The notion that the alleged personal moral failings of Africa’s political elite can somehow be separated from the phenomenon of tribalism is profoundly misleading. Networks of clan and tribal patronage are actually the basis of political power in Africa. “Big men” are elected precisely in order to channel government projects to their tribe, and to pass back personal graft to networks of kin and local tribal chiefs. Kenya’s citizens aren’t so much outraged by corruption per se, as they are eager to give their own tribe the opportunity to be every bit as corrupt as the Kikuyu. What’s more, from the perspective of many Africans, what we call “corruption” isn’t immoral at all. On the contrary, even overt vote-buying by African “big men” is often seen as generous communal sharing — proof positive that these politicians are not corrupt, but are instead heroic Robin Hoods who rob from the rich (i.e., the state) to give to their own tribal poor. These values of tribal and kin-based solidarity still dominate throughout much of Africa, and are difficult, at best, to harmonize with the expectations of liberal democracy.


Down a Notch?

In the wake of the recent election debacle, Freedom House removed Kenya from its list of the world’s electoral democracies, and took Kenya’s “political rights” score down a notch, to boot. In many ways, Freedom House’s rankings are extremely useful, yet in an important sense they are also misleading. We put too much stock in elections, and in the apparent existence of political rights. Now there’s a move to create a corruption index, but you can’t keep track of a society’s kinship or tribal structure with a score-card. For the most part, democracy promoters minimize the significance such traditional social forms. Yet the structures of kinship and tribe that organize everyday life in Africa often count most in the continent’s politics.


For democracy-promotion enthusiasts and cosmopolitan Africans alike, tribal society is but the ghostly remnant of a passing world. Merely acknowledging tribalism’s ongoing existence is a personal, intellectual, political, and economic embarrassment. It’s true that in some limited and highly modernized circles, the old ways are fading. Change is not impossible — although it comes slowly, often with shocking “reversals,” and without anything close to a guarantee of winning out. Yet in large parts of Africa, it would be more accurate to view the legal and electoral edifice of the state as little more than a skeletal framework, hastily built, that struggles to contain — or even to disguise — the stubbornly powerful reality of “traditional” tribal ways of life. The negotiated political settlement now in the works in Kenya won’t change this. It will only drive the truth about these political systems back, for a time, into the shadows.


For my money, African democracy is far more illusion than reality. We in the West are still barely capable of owning up to the critical factors at play in the struggle to govern Africa, much less honestly assessing their relative strength. That would spoil the script, leave us without a policy, undercut business confidence, and generally endanger stability in Africa. Then again, “democracy” has already accomplished all this.




**Why the Left Hates Democracy (, 080103)


By Dinesh D’Souza


Commenting on Benazir Bhutto’s assassination, I recently commented that there are three groups that oppose democracy in the Muslim world: the secular dictators like Musharaff, the Islamic radicals of the Bin Laden stripe, and the cultural left here in America. In response, several people expressed indignation. One challenged me to provide a single example of a leftist who opposed Muslim democracy. Other liberals noted that they favored the idea of democracy but alas it wasn’t succeeding in Iraq. Certainly it does seem odd that a left which is always calling for “more democracy” in America would resist democracy in Muslim countries.


Yet it’s true, and my book The Enemy at Home provides chapter and verse. For instance, the leftist author Robert Fisk resolutely opposed America’s attempt to introduce democracy in Afghanistan. Incredibly Fisk said that the Taliban government should be kept in power because it had nothing to do with 9/11. Leftist Howard Zinn also equated America’s displacement of the Taliban and holding of free elections with the 9/11 attacks themselves, as though both were equivalent crimes. Leftist legal scholar Richard Falk called for a “negotiated settlement” with the Taliban in order to protect the country’s “sovereign rights.”


Leading leftists such as Edward Said, Toni Morison, Jesse Jackson, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jane Fonda and Jim McDermott took out full-page ads condemning the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan. Leftist groups organized more than a hundred demonstrations against America’s efforts there. If these people had their way, the U.S. would not have overthrown the Taliban government and Afghanistan would not have had free elections.


Immediately following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, leftist philanthropist George Soros warned that “I would consider Iraq the last place to choose for a demonstration project” in democracy. Why the Iraqis were ineligible to rule themselves, Soros did not say. When Iraq had its first free election, columnist Bob Herbert said it meant nothing because “a real democracy requires an informed electorate” while the Iraqi people were “woefully uninformed,” apparently because they didn’t make the choices that Herbert wanted. Leftist columnist Robert Dreyfuss said the Iraqi elections were invalid because “the Sunni community was tricked into voting” and moreover the elected Sunnis “do not represent the resistance.” Apparently Dreyfuss thinks car bombers need representation too! Ivan Eland wrote in The American Prospect, “Spreading democracy doesn’t reduce terrorism and, if anything, actually makes it worse.” How democracy promotes terrorism, Eland neglected to explain.


Notice how the cultural left routinely condemns Bush for “hypocrisy” in using the rhetoric of democracy while the U.S. is allied with secular despots, but very rarely do leftists call for free elections in countries like Syria, Egypt or Saudi Arabia. There was even some cheering on the left when Turkish generals threatened a coup to subvert the elected government from holding free elections a few months ago. So why does the left hate democracy in the Muslim world? The reason is simple. Muslims are socially conservative and generally want a greater role for Islam in their private and public lives. Consequently Muslim democracies are likely to be more conservative socially than they are when secular despots rule them. The left fears Muslim democracy because it is terrified of Muslim values, especially sharia or Muslim holy law. Feminists and gays are not likely to fare very well under Muslim holy law.


When Iraqis rejected secular candidates and voted for a party that pledged to have sharia, at least in some forms of domestic law, the New York TImes howled that democracy could be “consigning Iraqi women to a life of subjugation.” Columnist Maureen Dowd warned that “the Iraqi election may actually be making things worse” because “it is going to expand the control of the Shia theocrats.” These complaints might have some plausibility if women or Sunnis were not permitted to vote. But women and men both voted for the Dawa party, and so essentially the Times and Dowd were arguing that if Iraqis don’t want equal roles for men and women, their democracy is a sham.


Bush’s attempt to introduce democracy to Iraq, and to expand the role of democracy in Egypt, Lebanon and Pakistan, is a brave and noble experiment. It might fail, and past historical experience is not promising. But if Bush succeeds we could see the beginning of an historical transformation no less significant than the transformation of the old Soviet Union. No wonder the left, not usually given to supplication, is praying very ardently this Christmas season that Bush does not succeed. If democracy fails, in Iraq and elsewhere, there is the added benefit that Democrats will have a better chance to take the White House in 2008.




**Don’t blame democracy (, 060224)


by Clifford D. May


Democracy is getting a bum rap. President Bush’s insistence on promoting democracy abroad, critics chide, has now brought Hamas, a Militant Islamist terrorist organization, to power in the West Bank and Gaza. If this is democracy, they say, who needs it?


But what has taken root in the Palestinian territories isn’t democracy. Or, more precisely, it isn’t liberal democracy — which presupposes freedom of speech and the press, the rule of law, an independent judiciary and guarantees of rights for minorities and women.


If elections were all it required to qualify as a democracy, the Soviet Union would have been one, since Soviet citizens regularly went to the polls to elect whichever candidates the Communist Party chose.


In Iran, too, people cast ballots. But Militant Islamist mullahs decide who runs and who wins. And in the West Bank and Gaza, while elections have been held occasionally since the 1993 Oslo Accords first awarded power to Yassir Arafat’s political machine, democratic values have not been seriously encouraged and democratic institutions have not been constructed.


At best, these are all examples of what political scientists call “electoral authoritarian” regimes or “illiberal democracies” or, more generously, “electoral democracies.” What determines whether they evolve into liberal democracies? Can freedom be given — or must it be earned? Can dissidents spread liberal democratic values even in police states? Do liberal democratic institutions create democrats?


Contrary to popular belief, President Bush and his “neo-conservative” supporters were not the first to ask such questions. Nor were they the first to involve the United States in the business of promoting freedom and democracy abroad. Beginning in 1983, a Democratic congress, backed by President Reagan, began appropriating funds to something called the National Endowment for the Democracies (NED), a private, non-profit organization “guided by the belief that freedom is a universal human aspiration that can be realized through the development of democratic institutions, procedures, and values.”


Last week, NED’s International Forum for Democratic Studies, in association with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, held a workshop on “Democracy and Terrorism.” Among those participating were liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, government officials, academics and journalists.


Also taking part were such leading Arab and Muslim democrats as Iraqi author Kanan Makiya; scholar Husain Haqqani; Zainah Anwar, executive director of Sisters in Islam; Rola Dashti, chairwoman of the Kuwait Economic Society; and Saad Eddin Ibrahim, chairman of the Ibn Khaldun Center in Cairo.


If this diverse group reached consensus on anything it was this: No, democracy is not the antidote to terrorism. But yes, democracy must be part of the treatment. Backing oppressive regimes to maintain “stability” is a policy that has been tried and which has failed — rather spectacularly.


Those who argue that there are few examples of democracy being exported to foreign lands have a point. But there are plenty of examples of democrats being supported in foreign lands.


In the 20th century, Americans expended vast resources on behalf of pro-democracy dissidents living under authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe. Until recently, there has been virtually no support for pro-democracy dissidents living under authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. Even today, the assistance we provide to those in the Middle East who share our values is a trickle compared to the river of funds that flow from Iran and Saudi Arabia to their allies around the world. Iranian and Saudi rulers expect big returns on these investments.


It was not inevitable that Nazism, Fascism and Communism would fail in their attempts to destroy the democratic experiment. Nor can we be certain that the free peoples of the world will survive the war now being waged against them by Militant Islamism.


The trends are not encouraging. Unless America and its European allies show more grit than they have to date, the most radical regime in the Middle East will soon have nuclear weapons. The House of Sa’ud is being enriched as never before. It is unlikely that the most devastating terrorist attack of the 21st century is behind us.


In the long run, freedom will advance or retreat depending largely on who is more determined — its enemies or its defenders. Maintaining the international status quo – liberty for those who consume gasoline, repression for those who pump it – may be the least realistic option of all.


“Advancing democracy is a struggle,” NED president Carl Gershman has written, “not a process of social engineering undertaken by bureaucrats.” And it requires much more than an occasional election in a place where government-controlled media, mosques and schools have glorified hate and celebrated suicide-bombers for years.




**The liberation of Iraq started on July 4, 1776 (London Times, 030414)


William Rees-Mogg


Democracy is a continuous revolution. April 9, 2003, was Liberty Day for Iraq, the day on which one of the foulest of the 20th-century tyrannies was finally destroyed. The liberation of Baghdad was greeted with celebration as well as looting, and by ill-concealed dismay in Paris, Berlin, Moscow and the left-wing British press. It was unquestionably a victory for the United States, not only for the American forces, but also for the American model of society.


The United States has for more than a century been the engine of global liberation. Historical processes have no clear-cut point of origin, but one can identify some of the critical dates.


There was September 11, 2001, when that evil man, Osama bin Laden, destroyed the American sense of immunity from foreign attack. There was August 2, 1990, when the equally evil Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. There was April 4, 1949, when the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation committed the United States to the collective defence of the free world. There was December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, forcing the United States to join the war. There was April 6, 1917, when the US President, Woodrow Wilson, declared war on Germany in response to unrestricted submarine warfare.


Behind that, there is February 15, 1898, when the US battleship Maine exploded in Havana harbour, which led to the liberation of Cuba. My mother, as a child of six, read the newspaper placards, “Remember the Maine “. There is April 12, 1861, when the Confederate Army bombarded Fort Sumter in defence of the institution of slavery. Even more famous is July 4, 1776, when the Declaration of Independence was signed at Philadelphia. There is a consistency about these events.


The United States usually intervenes with reluctance — it took 13 years to get from the original invasion of Kuwait to the removal of the Saddam Hussein regime. The US has even tried to avoid intervention by propping up authoritarian regimes, as in modern Saudi Arabia. Yet the underlying American idea is the most revolutionary idea in the world. It is the idea of liberty, of human freedom, of self-government and of democracy. Without American, and often British, intervention, most of the present-day democracies would never come in to existence, or would not have survived, particularly the European democracies.


Last week France, Germany and Russia met in St Petersburg to concert their reaction to the American victory. All three had refused to agree to intervention in Iraq on behalf of the United Nations. They share responsibility for the impotence of the UN. Yet France has been saved three times in the past 100 years by the United States, from Prussian militarism in 1917, from Nazi occupation in 1944, and from Soviet communism in the postwar years. French liberty is the product of American interventions; the French Government finds it shocking that the people of Iraq should have the same assistance. Jacques Chirac was a good friend of the dictator Saddam for 25 years in which Saddam killed some 2 million people. It was a corrupt partnership.


The Germans are in much the same position. Three times saved, and now wholly ungrateful under their two-faced Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder. In 1918 the Allied victory, which depended on the fresh American troops, overturned the old, aggressive, anti-Semitic Prussian Empire.


In 1945 the United States led the coalition which freed Germany from Hitler. After 1945 the US, particularly during the Berlin crisis, saved Germany from Stalin. In the 1980s US pressure led to the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, which made possible the reunification of Germany. The German Government was opposed to Iraq enjoying similar assistance.


The same is even true of Russia. In 1942 the Russians made a magnificent recovery from the defeats of 1941, which had almost proved terminal. But without US intervention, the war could not have been won; probably the Soviet Union would have fallen to Hitler. The Russian people would not have been liberated from Stalinism if the Americans had not won the Cold War. That was a war again tyranny. The Russian Government has been more than prepared to leave the people of Iraq to rot under Saddam Hussein.


Like France, Russia had strong commercial, financial and oil interests in the survival of the Saddam regime. With incredible dishonesty, the Russians even spied on the Anglo-American alliance and passed the information to their ally, Saddam.


The battle for liberty had been the core of US history from the beginning. In the 1770s, the United States fought a victorious war to free themselves from British rule, with some help from France. They fought England for self-government, inspired by English ideas.


It is no shame to be helped to gain national liberty either by foreign ideas or foreign force.


Another vital date in the history of liberty is November 5, 1688, when William of Orange landed in England. We were liberated with the help of the Dutch in the 17th century; the Americans liberated themselves with the help of the French in the 18th; some 30 modern European nations owe their liberty and democracy to interventions by the United States in the 20th.


The American idea of liberty developed from the English revolutionary ideas of the 17th century, from the history of two civil wars, above all from the philosophy of John Locke. But liberty has gained its dominance in the 20th and 21st centuries because it succeeds in economic as well as political terms. Liberty has created the most advanced modern nations, on the model of the United States.


American forces have twice been able to win in the Gulf, with light casualties, in Kosovo, and in Afghanistan, because the United States, with about a 20th of the world’s population, has the most advanced science, the best technology, the highest productivity, the best electronic communications, the most advanced weapons, the greatest logistical capacity. US power is the result of a free economy in a free society.


In Iraq, the overwhelming victory was won in three weeks by no more than one sixth of the potential defence forces of America. No such result could have been achieved, or even contemplated, by the armed forces of any other nation. The US model has repeatedly proved to be uniquely powerful, not just in defence, but in broader economic political and international terms.


Now democracy is spreading in a remarkable way. There are 54 African nations; Africa is the poorest continent on earth. In 1989 only four of these nations were democracies; in 2003, 17 of them are democratic despite poverty, the spread of Aids, and the social problems of tribalism. In 1989 the Warsaw Pact still existed. None of the regions of the Soviet Union, nor any of the Warsaw Pact nations, were democracies. Now most former Soviet countries and all the Warsaw Pact nations are democracies, despite corruption and the ghosts of the past. Self-government in a free society has become the global standard.


China herself is much freer than in 1989 and is applying the principles of “sustainable development” to constitutional and economic growth. All of this, the spread of freedom in Africa, Europe, China and the former Soviet Union, is the result of the example of the American model.


In Europe, which has been so impotent, there is widespread fear that the neo-conservatives in Washington will be “reckless”. I do not see anything reckless in President Bush. His reaction to the shock of September 11 was gradual and considered. It will be a good thing if dictators recognise that they have no sovereign immunity which entitles them to abuse their power, to murder or torture their people, or to sponsor terrorists.


The American victory in Iraq is a warning to the tyrants and terrorists of the world. The momentum of liberty continues to accelerate. The dictators have had a very bad couple of decades; in 1980 the world was still “half slave and half free”. Now the remaining dictators, old Castro, young Assad, Kim Jong Il, mad Mugabe and the others, look foolish and obsolete, though still horrible. They must mend their ways or liberty and democracy will amend them. In the Lockean phrase quoted in the Boston Freemen’s Declaration of 1774: “‘Just and true Liberty, equal and impartial Liberty’ is a thing that all men are clearly entitled to.” Despite the failures of the Security Council, the people of Iraq now have the expectation of liberty.




**Sharansky Part 1: Democracy Defended (National Review, 041206)


From the December 6, 2004 issue: Natan Sharansky explains why democracy makes the world safer.

by Meyrav Wurmser


The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror

by Natan Sharansky


NATAN SHARANSKY, one of the great champions of human rights, personifies freedom’s victory over tyranny. Before immigrating to Israel and becoming a prominent politician, he was one of the best-known leaders of the dissident movement in the Soviet Union and an advocate of the cause of Soviet Jewry. Convicted of treason in 1978, he was sent to the Gulag, where he stayed until Mikhail Gorbachev released him in 1986.


His book The Case for Democracy:The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror reads at once as a warm, personal account and a dispassionately analytical treatise. Its title is its theme: How can freedom overcome tyranny and bring security and peace?


Sharansky builds his argument like a mathematical equation. First, he divides the world between “free” and “fear” societies. Then he employs a simple test to discern a free society from a society based on fear: Can one enter a public square and express any opinion without fear of being arrested? If not, one is in a society that runs on fear.


Then, he describes the mechanics of fear societies, focusing on three basic groups: true believers, doublethinkers, and dissidents. Sharansky uses personal anecdotes to demonstrate what these categories mean, and to describe, for readers who have lived only in free societies, the experience of living in a fear society. He admits that he was, like most of the Soviet population, a doublethinker, constantly performing a balancing act between his true feelings and his public feelings. As a child, he privately celebrated Stalin’s death, and then joined the public expressions of mourning and praise.


Only those adept at reading these mechanics, Sharansky warns, can tell the true believers from the doublethinkers. Most outsiders mistakenly accept the popularity of despotic states because these regimes spend great effort trying to conceal the difference between their true believers and doublethinkers. The failure to see the difference between the two, however, is not just a question of political acumen, it is a question of moral clarity.


Sharansky then analyzes the inherent instability of fear societies. Their leaders lack popular support, and, over time, they lose true believers. So the regime must work harder to hold onto power. To prop itself up, the regime needs an external enemy, who serves a dual, if not contradictory, purpose. Because the fear society stifles creative thought, it lacks scientific and technological progress, and so must mimic those of its rival. It also uses the rival as the scapegoat for its own political malaise. By contrast, governments of free societies are accountable to the will of the people and the laws of their country. A democratic leader who pursues a reckless agenda cannot do so indefinitely.


Sharansky explains how freedom can guide free societies in their dealings with fear societies. He does so by raising three questions: Is freedom from tyranny universally desired? Is pursuing that goal universally desirable? And can it be done, even if imposing it on a nation is required?


Discussing the United States’s role in the world, he responds to criticisms of so-called realists from both the left and right who believe that America’s foreign policy should be guided only by interests—and not by ideals. He rejects the notion that certain cultures are incompatible with democracy. Exporting freedom to these societies, he argues, is moral since it helps oppressed people obtain basic liberties. But it is also pragmatic, because democratic societies tend to resolve their differences peacefully.


SHARANSKY ADVOCATES the use of well-calculated international pressure against tyrannies. In the Middle East, the dictatorships may be vehemently anti-American, but the people tend to favor the West. The West can influence undemocratic and anti-American regimes such as Iran’s, Saudi Arabia’s, and Syria’s by insisting that their people enjoy some basic freedoms. The freedom deficit in the Arab world, argues Sharansky, does not mean that Arabs do not strive for freedom. The desire for liberty is universal and beats even in Arab hearts.


In fact, says Sharansky, the West’s tendency not to challenge the tyrannies that govern the Middle East is partly to blame for the scarcity of freedom in the Arab world. The realist pursuit of stability led certain American administrations to endorse some of the world’s darkest oppressors. The futile Oslo process serves as a glaring example of the failure to bring peace when freedom is ignored. The West mistakenly sought to strengthen Yasser Arafat in the hopes that he would control his people and make peace with Israel. But embracing a corrupt

dictator in the name of stability only served to oppress the Palestinians and undermine Israel’s peace and security.


Sharansky’s book, written prior to Arafat’s death, is optimistic about the prospects for Palestinian freedom. He makes reference to Omar Karsou, a Palestinian dissident and voice for freedom. While admitting the differences of opinion between himself and Karsou—who does not believe in the Jewish people’s historic right to the land of Israel—Sharansky nevertheless argues that democrats like Karsou are better partners for peaceful coexistence than was Arafat. Under the dictatorial rule of Arafat, all grievances were deflected toward Israel.


Even when former Israeli premier Barak offered an unprecedented territorial compromise, Arafat had to reject it and renew the intifada for fear that his people would challenge his rule after a settlement. Democrats like Karsou, Sharansky insists, would not endorse violent struggle to maintain their power.


PRESIDENT BUSH recently met with Sharansky and carefully read his book. Rumor also has it that the president asked his newly appointed secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, to read the book as well. This means that a former Soviet dissident and one of the great champions of freedom is now influencing the thinking of the most powerful man in the world. Dictators everywhere, take note.




**Sharansky Part 2: The Power of Freedom: What Soviet dissidents, Scoop Jackson, and Reagan understood. (National Review Online, 041204)


By Natan Sharansky with Ron Dermer


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a three-part series of excerpts from The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky with Ron Dermer. They are taken from the book’s introduction.


How was one Soviet dissident able to see what legions of analysts and policymakers in the West were blind to? Did Amalrik have access to more information than they did? Was he smarter than all the Sovietologists put together? Of course not. Amalrik was neither better informed nor more intelligent than those who had failed to predict the demise of the USSR. But unlike them, he understood the awesome power of freedom.


Dissidents understood the power of freedom because it had already transformed our own lives. It liberated us the day we stopped living in a world where “truth” and “falsehood” were, like everything else, the property of the State. And for the most part, this liberation did not stop when we were sentenced to prison. Having already removed the shackles that imprisoned our minds, our physical confinement could not dull the sense of freedom that coursed through our veins.


We perceived the Soviet Union as a wooden house riddled with termites. From the outside, it might appear strong and sturdy. But inside it was rotting. The Soviets had enough nuclear missiles to destroy the world ten times over. Over 30% of the earth’s surface was under communist rule and the Soviets possessed enormous natural resources. Its people were highly educated, and its children second to none in mathematic and scientific achievement. But forced to devote an increasing share of its energies to controlling its own people, the USSR was decaying from within. The peoples behind the Iron Curtain yearned to be free, to speak their minds, to publish their thoughts, and most of all, to think for themselves. While a few dissidents had the courage to express those yearnings openly, most were simply afraid. We dissidents were certain, however, that freedom would be seized by the masses at the first opportunity because we understood that fear and a deep desire for liberty are not mutually exclusive.


Fortunately there were a few leaders in the West who could look beyond the facade of Soviet power to see the fundamental weakness of a state that denied its citizens freedom. Western policies of accommodation, regardless of their intent, were effectively propping up the Soviet’s tiring arms. Had that accommodation continued, the USSR might have survived for decades longer. By adopting a policy of confrontation instead, an enervated Soviet regime was further burdened. Amalrik’s analysis of Soviet weakness was correct because he understood the inherent instability of totalitarian rule. But the timing of his prediction proved accurate only because people both inside and outside the Soviet Union who understood the power of freedom were determined to harness that power.


For me, and for many other dissidents, the two men leading the forces of confrontation in America were Senator Henry Jackson and President Ronald Reagan. One a Democrat, the other a Republican, their shared conviction that the individual’s desire for freedom was an unstoppable force convinced them of the possibility of a democratic transformation inside the Soviet Union. Crucially, they also believed that the free world had a critical role to play in accelerating this transformation. Their efforts to press for democratic reform did not stem solely from humanitarian considerations. Like Sakharov, these men understood that the spread of human rights and democracy among their enemies was essential to their own nation’s security.


Had Reagan and Jackson listened to their critics, who called them dangerous warmongers, I am convinced that hundreds of millions of people would still be living under totalitarian rule. Instead, they ignored the critics and doggedly pursued an activist policy that linked the Soviet Union’s international standing to the regime’s treatment of its own people.


The logic of linkage was simple. The Soviets needed things from the West — legitimacy, economic benefits, technology, etc. To get them, leaders like Reagan and Jackson demanded that the Soviets change their behavior toward their own people. For all it simplicity, this was nothing less than a revolution in diplomatic thinking. Whereas statesmen before them had tried to link their countries’ foreign policies to a rival regime’s international conduct, Jackson and Reagan would link America’s policies to the Soviet’s domestic conduct.


In pursing this linkage, Jackson, Reagan, and those who supported them found the Achilles heel of their enemies. Beset on the inside by dissidents demanding the regime live up to its international commitments and pressed on the outside by leaders willing to link their diplomacy to internal Soviet changes, Soviet leaders were forced to lower their arms. The spark of freedom that was unleashed spread like a brushfire to burn down an empire. As a dumbfounded West watched in awe, the people of the East taught them a lesson in the power of freedom.


Dazzled by success, policymakers in the West quickly forgot what had provided the basis for it. Astonishingly, the lessons of the West’s spectacular victory in which an empire crumbled without a shot fired or a missile launched were neglected. More than fifteen years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the free world continues to underestimate the universal appeal of its own ideas. Rather than place its faith in the power of freedom to rapidly transform authoritarian states, it is eager once again to achieve “peaceful coexistence” and “détente” with dictatorial regimes.


— Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident and political prisoner, is author of the memoir Fear No Evil and currently serves as the Israeli minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora affairs. Ron Dermer is a political consultant and former columnist for the Jerusalem Post.




**Sharansky Part 3: The Great Debate: Why the skeptics are wrong. (National Review Online, 041209)


By Natan Sharansky with Ron Dermer


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a three-part series of excerpts from The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky with Ron Dermer. They are taken from the book’s introduction.


Less than two years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall and immediately after the first Gulf War ended, I met with the editorial board of one of America’s most influential newspapers. I suggested that the United States, which had just saved Saudi Arabia and Kuwait from extinction, had an historic opportunity. Now was the time to use America’s primacy in the Middle East to start bringing freedom to a region of the world where hundreds of millions are still denied it. I argued that just as the United States had effectively used “linkage” to accelerate changes within the Soviet Union, America should link its policies towards the Arab states to those regimes’ respect for the human rights of their subjects. As a first step, I suggested that America’s newfound leverage in the region might be used to insist that Saudi Arabia accept an opposition newspaper or remove some of its severe restrictions on emigration.


The eyes of my hosts quickly glazed over. Their reaction was expressed in terms that Kissinger easily could have used in 1975 in discussing the Soviet Union: “You must understand,” they replied politely, “the Saudis control the world’s largest oil reserves. They are our allies. It is of no concern to America how the Saudis rule their own country. Saudi Arabia is not about democracy. It is about the stability of the West.”


On September 11, 2001, we saw the consequences of that stability. Nineteen terrorists, spawned in a region awash with tyranny, massacred three thousand Americans. I would like to believe that horrific day has dispelled the free world of its illusions and that democratic policymakers recognize that the price for “stability” inside a nondemocratic regime is terror outside of it. I would like to believe that the leaders of the free world are now unequivocally committed to advancing freedom throughout the region not merely for the sake of the hundreds of millions who have never tasted it, but also for the sake of their own countries’ security. Most of all, I would like to believe that those who are confident of the power of freedom to change the world will once again see their ideas prevail.


But I have serious doubts. There are, to be sure, important signs of hope. I am heartened by the American-led effort currently underway in the region to build democratic societies in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as by President Bush’s determination to see this effort succeed. Moreover, as was true a generation ago, the belief in the power of freedom is not confined to one side of the political and ideological divide. Across the Atlantic, a left of center British prime minister, Tony Blair, appears no less committed than President Bush to a democratic transformation of the Middle East. And to his credit, Mr. Blair has had to make the case for democracy against the views of many in his own Labour Party and the overwhelming doubt of the British public.


But those who believe that a democratic Middle East is possible are few in number. Within certain parts of America, and nearly everywhere outside of it, the voices of skepticism appear ascendant. Many have questioned whether the democratic world has a right to impose its values on a region that is said to reject them. Most argue that military intervention in the Middle East is causing more harm than good. Even within the Bush administration, the president’s words, expressing a profound faith in freedom, are not always translated into policies that reflect that faith.


Freedom’s skeptics have returned. They may couch their disbelief in different terms than they did a generation ago. Then, with Soviet’s nuclear-tipped missiles pointed at Western capitals, the focus was on the inability of the free world to win the war. Now, it is on the inability to win the peace. Nevertheless, the arguments peddled by the skeptics sound all too familiar.


They insist that there are certain cultures and civilizations that are not compatible with democracy and certain peoples who do not desire it. They argue that the Arabs need and want iron-fisted rulers, that they have never had democracy and never will, and that their “values are not our values.”


Once again, it is asserted that democracy in certain parts of the world is not in the best interests of the “West.” While it will be readily admitted that the current regimes in the Middle East suppress freedom, those regimes are believed to also suppress a far worse alternative: the radicals and fundamentalists who might win democratic elections. The message is clear: It is better to deal with a Middle Eastern dictatorship that is our friend than a democratic regime that is our enemy.


Finally, it is said that even if the free world might be made more secure by the region’s democratization, there is little the democracies can do to help. We are told that freedom cannot be imposed from the outside and that any attempt to do so will only backfire, further fanning the flames of hatred. Since democratic reform can only come from within, the prudent role for leaders of the free world, it is argued, is to make the best of a bad situation. Rather than recklessly trying to create a new Middle East that is beyond reach and which will provoke greater hostility toward the “West,” democratic leaders are advised to work with the “moderate” non-democratic regimes in the region to promote peace and stability.


One thing unites all of these arguments: They deny the power of freedom to transform the Middle East. In this book, I hope to explain why the skeptics are as wrong today as they were a generation ago and why the West must not betray the freedoms on which it was built.


I am convinced that all peoples desire to be free. I am convinced that freedom anywhere will make the world safer everywhere. And I am convinced that democratic nations, led by the United States, have a critical role to play in expanding freedom around the globe. By pursuing clear and consistent policies that link its relations with nondemocratic regimes to the degree of freedom enjoyed by the subjects of those regimes, the free world can transform any society on earth, including those that dominate the current landscape of the Middle East. In so doing, tyranny can become, like slavery, an evil without a future.


The great debate of my youth has returned. Once again, the world is divided between those who are prepared to confront evil and those who are willing to appease it. And once again, the question that ultimately separates members of the two camps remains this: Do you believe in the power of freedom to change the world? I hope that those who read this book will count themselves, like me, among the believers.


— Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet dissident and political prisoner, is author of the memoir Fear No Evil and currently serves as the Israeli minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora affairs. Ron Dermer is a political consultant and former columnist for the Jerusalem Post.





Supplemental Articles in a separate file (click here to read)