Tags: Making | the | Case | for | Democracy

Making the Case for Democracy

Sunday, 05 December 2004 12:00 AM

In his new book co-authored with journalist Ron Dermer, "The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror" (Public Affairs. 256 pp.), Sharansky, now 56 years old, spells out his belief:

“I am convinced that all people desire to be free … that freedom anywhere will make the world safer everywhere … [and] that democratic nations, led by the United States, have a critical role to play in expanding freedom around the globe.”

He cites the devastating toll that tyrannical regimes have wrought on their helpless populations and the inevitable success of democracy wherever it has taken root – in spite of the doubt expressed by foreign policy “experts” throughout the world, most of whom ignore the evidence and continue to subscribe to the notion that repressive regimes are incapable of adopting, embracing and flourishing in a democracy.

One example is post-World War II Germany, where a bellicose people that had waged its genocidal campaign with fanatical fervor ultimately found the advent of democracy intoxicating. Another is the dismantling of the Soviet Union that found Communism dead and its citizens exulting in their newfound freedom to pray and live their lives relatively at peace with their neighbors and unfettered by totalitarian control.

Sharansky insists that peace will never come to the Arab world in general and Palestinians in particular unless their society is democratized – a view he has shared with four Israeli prime ministers as well as American and European leaders, all of whom (including John Kerry during his presidential campaign) believed that maintaining “stability” in the region was preferable to risking instability.

But to maintain stability, Sharansky says, “autocrats are embraced, dictators are coddled, and tyrants are courted.” A prime example, he says, is the late Yasser Arafat, who extracted decades’ worth of material and moral “support” from Western governments that willfully ignored the repressive nature of the Palestinian Authority, the massive corruption that drained untold millions of dollars into the “chairman’s” personal bank accounts, and the vast human rights abuses and degradation of Palestinians themselves.

Ever the optimist, however, Sharansky believes that democracy is a distinct possibility among Arab states and in a future Palestinian state. There is no choice, he says: “In an age of weapons of mass destruction and global terrorism, the dangers of ignoring the absence of democracy in any part of the world have increased dramatically.”

It seems that no one could agree more than President George W. Bush, who has made democratization of the Middle East a centerpiece of his foreign policy. Barely a week after he was re-elected, the president hosted Sharansky and Dermer in the Oval Office and told them that he and his newly named secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, were just finishing “The Case for Democracy.”

After the meeting, Sharansky told journalist Joel Rosenberg (nationalreviewonline): “Everybody knows that weapons of mass

The famous Soviet dissident then told Rosenberg what he had said to the president:

“There is a great difference between politicians and dissidents. Politicians are focused on polls and the press. They are constantly making compromises. But dissidents focus on ideas. They have a message burning inside of them. They would stand up for their convictions no matter what the consequences.

"In spite of all the polls warning you that talking about spreading democracy in the Middle East might be a losing issue – despite all the critics and the resistance you faced – you kept talking about the importance of free societies and free elections. You kept explaining that democracy is for everybody. You kept saying that only democracy will truly pave the way to peace and security. You, Mr. President, are a dissident among the leaders of the free world.”

Free peoples and lovers of democracy now have every right to hope that the vision Sharansky has propounded in his new book – of peace via democratic institutions in the Middle East – can and will be implemented by the man he clearly sees as a visionary American president.

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In his new book co-authored with journalist Ron Dermer, "The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror" (Public Affairs. 256 pp.), Sharansky, now 56 years old, spells out his belief: "I am convinced that all people desire to be free … that...
Making,the,Case,for,Democracy
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2004-00-05
Sunday, 05 December 2004 12:00 AM
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