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.