HUMINT: Advocating democratization may sound provocative, even interventionist, but it isn’t. Instead it is the exact opposite of provocation. Democratization policies presuppose that less intervention is preferred to more intervention. The objective of democratization policy should be to tip a volatile situation in favor of freedom and stability without offensive or defensive violence.
WHO can democratize best? Everyone! Democratization as a foreign policy represents a commitment from all strata of society. Unfortunately, these diverse elements remain uncoordinated today. Fortunately, intra-national and inter-national incompetence is not a permanent condition. To perform effectively, democratization requires a synchronized philosophy of civil society or at least a cross-cultural commitment to find and respect such a philosophy. Once articulated, that philosophy must cross traditional cultural as well as interagency boundaries.
WHAT isn’t democratization? Synching a healthy philosophy of governance among national leaders isn’t neo-colonialism. Democratization is about explaining what a healthy society actually is. Between you and me, I don’t have all of those answers. To be sure, the best answers are a moving target. Unlike colonialism, democratization is always a two-way conversation.
DOES local dysfunction hurt central government? We do know and can empirically prove that dysfunction at a local level adversely influences central governments. That fact is as true for the United States as it is anywhere else in the world. Therefore the principal mission of democratization is to empirically demonstrate how central governments, retarded by local dysfunction, adversely impact international stability. Democratization is about honestly assessing and reporting the results of policies around the world and offering thoughtful alternatives to policies that perpetuate dysfunction at a local level.
ARE Americans nation builders? To that end, Americans needn’t open their wallets for massive nation-building projects. People around the world intend to develop and pacify their own communities themselves. When they are failing however, it should not be assumed that they are failing on purpose. Every community in the world is burdened with common obstacles. Many of the obstacles nations are facing today, American institutions overcame centuries ago. Here is where American mentorship and management has an essential win-win role to play.
IS the USA positive? Democratization is also about American officials demonstrating that the USA is playing a positive role wherever Americans are involved. Indeed, democratization efforts are occurring already. The US government should highlight its success stories but does not. A major problem is that positive American democratization policies are poorly explained, allowed to be mischaracterized for nefarious ends, and almost never justified by Americans with the zeal they deserve. It’s time to start explaining that democracy is a positive pursuit.
WILL it be hard? Yes, but less hard than dealing with governments that hide their intent and do not respond to internal or external dissent. Let’s be honest about the costs of democratization. Curbing misconceptions is not the same thing as curbing offensive or defensive violence. Violence may occur when a clarification is made. That’s fine! Fighting isn’t failure. Democracy is no guarantor of peace and stability. Instead, democracy is a proven procedural approach to achieve sustainable peace and sustainable stability.
WHY democracy? Democratization is about fostering transparency and responsiveness of government institutions. Not only does democratization curb threats, it creates new opportunity. For the sake of increasing opportunity, as well as saving lives and resources, it’s time to start explaining that the pursuit of democracy is a positive pursuit and in so doing, encourage democrats around the world!
1. Image assigned to this post is of George Washington crossing the Delaware. During the night of December 25, 1776 Washington led his troops across the ice-swollen Delaware about 9 miles north of Trenton. The weather was horrendous and the river treacherous. Raging winds combined with snow, sleet and rain to produce almost impossible conditions. To add to the difficulties, a significant number of Washington's force marched through the snow without shoes. Washington's leadership is an historical benchmark for democratization efforts.
HUMINT: Thank You
This essay was composed to thank everybody who does what they do when they are motivated by a sense of justice, righteousness and civility.
Thanks go to the owners and employees of businesses; you keep lines short so citizens can do whatever it is they do when they’re not wasting their time in lines. Thanks to bankers for keeping our money safe and currency legitimate. Special thanks go to judges and lawyers; your knowledge of case law establishes the rules by which we all live and thrive. Thanks go to police officers, fire fighters and hospital staff. Without you, society would be corrupt, on fire and sick, which would be Hell. Your effort to keep chaos at bay is nothing less than an undeclared war… Thank you.
Thank you, Rabbis, Priests and Clerics. Your various interpretations of scripture guide many of the world’s inhabitants toward tolerance and justice. There are too many spiritual heroes to name here but there is one example worth mentioning; Islam’s Imam Hussein sought to inspire life by risking his own. His journey to Valhalla was not suicide, but a risk taken in faith against long odds. Those are the facts of Imam Hussein’s narrative as I understand them. Indeed, Imam Hussein was a public servant.
Thank you, public servants! No other role contradicts the core American identity more than that of a career public servant. It must be difficult. A servant’s pursuit of life, liberty and happiness is secondary, conciliatory and supportive to that of all other American citizens’ pursuit of life liberty and happiness.
Thank you, soldiers, sailors and airmen. The United States is an island of peaceful coexistence surrounded on all sides by divisive forces. The world beyond our borders taxes you most of all. Corruption, poverty and violence are three sides of the same coin. Where diplomacy is ineffectual, you will be called to protect Americans from the ever present threat of chaos.
Entrepreneurs and inventors, thank you! You have liberated so many hours of laborious tedium, our children have little, or no concept of manual labor. Before household appliances, keeping our homes clean and our families fed required every ounce of energy. Suffice to say that those are only the most vivid examples of your intellectual generosity. Thank you for all of your inventions that we do not see but enjoy every minute of every day. The pursuit of life, liberty and happiness could not march forward without your eternal vigilance.
Thank you parents! No one is more responsible for the condition of society than you. Thank you for teaching your children to stand up for what they believe in. Thatnk you for teaching your children to respect the oppinions of others. What you do is taken for granted, misunderstood and misrepresented. There is no manual that comes with a child; only a flood of informed opinion; sometimes wrong, but always well meaning.
And last but not least, thanks go to our own intelligence. Thank you for making smart, intelligent decisions untied to dogma, cognizant of history, aligned with the American national identity. Nothing deserves higher regard. Thanks!
HUMINT: Hypocritical Labels
Reasons for believing in and supporting any American policy are subject to change. Indeed, change is a natural part of the human condition. There should be no shame in changing one’s mind, if the reasons for doing so are empirically defensible.
Obviously, flippant opinions on subjects as serious as American-War policy are dangerous. At the same time, American policy can be over-analyzed and mischaracterized. Such hypocritical labeling leads the public and their representatives toward erroneous conclusions and bad policy decisions.
Where consistency should not waiver though are the broad strokes. Missing the BIG picture is a serious error with serious consequences. Unfortunately, many people do miss the BIG picture. How? The BIG picture changes very slowly, almost imperceptibly.
Its slowness breeds misinterpretation. To see the BIG picture as it truly is, consider taking the long-view. Dig into history. Find the important trends. Look for successful parallels in the past. Bear witness to past failures in order to learn what NOT to believe.
The BIG picture is most discernable when juxtaposing facts sampled over long periods of time. In terms of American policy, the big picture appears to be:
1. The United States is a positive moral force in the world today and has been since 1776
These five points are empirically defensible. Labels contradicting them are taxing but welcome. A contradictory mischaracterization is ultimately a hypocritical label. Here’s why; labeling a positive force negative sustains bad policy. That’s an embodiment of hypocrisy.
Hypocritical labels deserve to be challenged. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who mischaracterizes the United States. Irrespective of where the distortion comes from; a foreign official or an American activist, every single mischaracterization deserves a rhetorical confrontation.
What will that confrontation look like? Inevitably, challenges to the BIG picture, will be conceptually deconstructed. Political discourse on the subject tends to lean toward specific policy failures or questionable military practices. That’s fine!
Those debates are an exercise in free speech  and precisely why the United States is a positive moral force in the world today. The freedom to accumulate and present empirical evidence virtually guarantees improvement in policy and tactics.
Broadening the scope of this essay beyond American policy; success in anything, including victory at war, is not possible without incremental improvements derived through informed debate.
Where should the debate occur? Unfortunately, that’s not a rational choice to make. The debate must occur wherever and whenever a mischaracterization is made.
Why should the debate occur? Obviously, not every confused soul is going to listen to an intellectual argument rooted in empirical evidence, but mischaracterizations shouldn’t be ignored.
However, there are priorities among the broad ecosystem of mischaracterizations. To be sure, the debate must happen when the results of an American policy or military tactic do not satisfy the BIG picture.
Engaging in debate over policy and tactics is the least an American patriot can do. Failure is not the intent of any American policy or tactic. American policy failures under public scrutiny right now cannot substitute as the BIG picture for American domestic or foreign policy. That’s substituting a distorted short-view for a more accurate long-view. Unfortunately, the substitution is made too often, causing a public opinion vortex.
When public opinion is distorted by mischaracterizations of American foreign or domestic policy, the world is burdened with a hypocritical label.
1. The painting on this post is entitled "Freedom of Speech": In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave a speech about the "Four Freedoms" everyone should have: freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom of speech, and freedom of worship. Norman Rockwell painted these Four Freedoms. These paintings succeeded in raising almost $133 million in war-bond purchases. Norman Rockwell said the Four Freedoms were "serious paintings which sucked the energy right out of me, leaving me dazed and thoroughly weary." Rockwell uses various techniques to draw your attention to the main character in Freedom of Speech. The speaker is in the center of the scene and he is the only one standing. Other people in the picture are looking up at him. Rockwell creates a strong sense that the speaker is really speaking and that the listeners are really listening. To illustrate listening, he slightly exaggerated the size of their ears.
HUMINT: Musical Chairs
The game “Musical Chairs” is played by a group of N people. The rules are so simple, they’re almost stupid. When the music stops, each player must find a seat. While the music is playing, the players walk, dance, trot or meander around a row of N-1 chairs. The chairs are configured in a circle or are arranged to face front and back at repeating intervals of two. This is to ensure players standing on either side of the row of seats can find one quickly when the music stops. If the letters p and b represent the chairs facing opposite directions, the configuration would look something like [pbpbpbpb] if N=9. But there aren’t enough chairs… Count them. There are 8. That’s the point of the game. The player left standing when the music stops is that round’s loser.
The type of music playing isn’t supposed to matter to the players. The only thing that should influence the behavior of the players is whether or not the music is on or off. The game represents a Boolean condition. If the music is on, everyone is standing. If the music is off, everyone must be sitting. Anyone standing when the music isn't playing exists in a false condition.
The game however could become complicated if the music were to directly contradict the rules of the game. Imagine playing musical chairs to the song “Get Up! Stand Up!” by Bob Marley (I am a fan) and the Wailers. If the players listen to the lyrics, believe in the lyrics, put faith in the lyrics… Well, then it wouldn’t be musical chairs anymore… It would be a different game entirely.