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America's Democratization Projects Abroad
By James Kurth
Published 11/14/2006 12:06:34 AM

This article appeared in the October issue of The American Spectator. To subscribe to our monthly print edition, click here.

FOR ALMOST A CENTURY, the United States has been engaged in a succession of democratization projects abroad. President Woodrow Wilson in particular was an enthusiast in promoting democracy, first in the Caribbean basin and Central America ("I will teach the South Americans to elect good men") and then in Europe and beyond (the U.S. entry into World War I was supposed "to make the world safe for democracy").

Even earlier, during the 19th century, the United States had given rhetorical encouragement to democratic movements abroad, but it was not in a position to give them substantive support until it became a great power, a status that it achieved with its victory in the Spanish-American War of 1898. The Republican administrations of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft were quick to employ America's new power to promote regime change in the Caribbean basin, but their objective was merely to establish new governments that would make their countries safe for American security and business interests, i.e., regimes that certainly were liberal, but were not really democratic. With the Democratic administration of Woodrow Wilson, however, the United States embarked upon the promotion of democracy abroad in the full sense and in a big way. In the course of the 20th century, there ensued a great parade of U.S. democratization projects that marched around the world.

The Success Stories

SOME OF THESE DEMOCRATIZATION projects were great successes. The most famous cases, of course, were Germany and Japan after their defeat in World War II, but these two examples (and exemplars) were joined by similar successes in Austria and Italy. In these four cases, of course, U.S.-style democratization was imposed by U.S.-led military occupation.

Also famous are the cases of Eastern Europe after the transformation-really, the defeat-of the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Here, of course, the United States did not impose a military occupation (but crucially the Soviets did withdraw theirs). Nevertheless, the result has been a wide swath of successful transitions to established liberal-democratic systems, stretching from the Baltic to the Balkans, or about a dozen countries in all. This has been a major achievement for U.S. foreign policy indeed.

Rather less sudden and dramatic, but still substantial and impressive, has been the U.S.-supported democratization of South Korea and Taiwan during the past two decades. Along with the earlier U.S.-imposed democratization of Japan, these two East Asian cases demonstrate that democratization projects can succeed not only in Europe (which, being part of Western civilization, might be expected to be receptive to liberal and democratic values), but also in at least one region beyond, one that has a very different cultural inheritance.

The Failure Stories

UNFORTUNATELY, OUR LONG PARADE of U.S. democratization projects includes some rather substantial failures as well. Not surprisingly, given the normal American tendency to be optimistic and to look upon the good side of some new project, these past failures are not nearly as famous as the past successes. They have been important, however, and they may be more relevant to the recent project of the Bush administration to democratize the Middle East and the Muslim world more generally. These past failures also raise cautions about any future U.S. effort to promote democracy in other regions as well.

Ironically, given the common and contemporary identification of democratization with "Wilsonianism," the original democratization projects of Woodrow Wilson himself all ended in failure. By the late 1920s, every country in Latin America where Wilson had employed U.S. military forces or other kind of intervention to teach the local citizens to elect good men had ended up with a military dictator or some other form of authoritarian regime. The same outcome occurred in Europe, where the consequences of failure would be much greater and much graver. Again, by 1930, almost every country in Eastern Europe where Wilson had employed U.S. pressure to bring about democratization -- usually in the form of "self-determination" -- had ended up with some form of authoritarian regime. Democratic systems still remained in Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Finland, however, and it still could be said that Wilsonianism's achievements remained impressive. But then, with the onset and impact of the Great Depression, the democratic systems in Germany and Austria collapsed, and the consequences of these failures were more momentous and terrible than anything that could have been imagined.

What explains the failures of the original Wilsonian democratization projects? The most common factor -- one characteristic of both the Latin American and the Eastern European failures in the 1920s -- was the absence of a substantial middle class and, therefore, the presence of a large gap between a small upper class, largely composed of landlords and merchants, and a large lower class, most of whom were peasants. In contrast, in the Central European cases of Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia there was a very substantial middle class and a very substantial industrial working class as well, and these two classes continued to provide strong support for large democratic parties. However, the Great Depression, which had a disastrous impact upon industrial production around the world, knocked the props out from this support, at least in Germany and Austria where democratic practices were relatively new. (We will have more to say about the supporting factors for democracy -- and the differences between successes and failures -- below.)

During the Cold War, the United States undertook a major democratization project in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines in the 1950s-1960s and in South Vietnam in the 1960s. The epic U.S. military and political failure in South Vietnam (and in Cambodia and Laos as well) has cast this particular project into the darkest recesses of the American memory and has caused it to be largely forgotten. It would have been better to have remembered it, however, because some of the failed democratic initiatives tried in South Vietnam have been repeated and have failed in Iraq (e.g., expecting formal elections to solve fundamental conflicts). It should also be remembered that the U.S. project in the Philippines ended in the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, which lasted from 1972 to 1986, when a democratic system of sorts was restored. Even today, however, Philippine democracy is afflicted by a large gap between a few rich and many poor, and the system remains fragile and fitful. In some ways, the Philippines can be seen as a kind of Latin Asia, bearing similarities to much of Latin America.

The Bush Administration's Failed Project in the Middle East

BEGINNING WITH THE DECLARATION of the Bush Doctrine in 2002 and with the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Bush administration drove the United States into yet another democratization project in yet another foreign region, this time the Middle East and the Muslim world more generally. The rhetorical apotheosis of this particular project was President Bush's Second Inaugural Address in January 2005, and the highpoints of its apparent progress were the "Cedar Revolution" in Lebanon in 2005 and a series of hyped elections in Iraq in 2005 and 2006. Today, this project lies in ruins, destroyed by the Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon and the de facto civil war in Iraq (to say nothing of such results of democratic elections as the recent surge of votes for radical Islamists whenever they appear on the ballot, such as Hamas in Palestine and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt).

Is it possible that democratic elections in the Middle East and the Muslim world will actually have as their consequence the rise to power of "Islamofascism," the very totalitarian enemy that the Bush administration sought to defeat with its democratization project? If so, one should not be totally surprised, particularly if one is an administration that talks incessantly about the lessons the rest of us are supposed to learn from Nazi Germany. After all, it was successive free elections in the very democratic Weimar Republic after 1930 that brought the Nazis-the most extreme case of the original fascists-to power in 1933.

What lessons can be drawn from this record of successes and failures? Are there particular conditions that make a U.S. democratization project more likely to succeed (and also more likely to be worth its cost in the blood of American soldiers and the treasure of American citizens)? We will begin with an account of the legendary successes in Germany and Japan, along with the similar successes in Austria and Italy.

The Exceptional Cases from World War II

FOR AMERICA, THE BIGGEST EVENT of the 20th century was World War II. It is not surprising that the war's epic narrative has continued to shape the American public mentality (and political mythology), along with U.S. foreign policy, ever since. Munich and appeasement; Pearl Harbor and surprise attack; early 1942 and national desperation; later 1942 to 1945, resurgence and total victory; and, finally, the successful post-war democratization of our defeated enemies -- each of these dramatic episodes in the World War II narrative has had a powerful hold on the American imagination. This largely explains why the successes of democratization in Germany and Japan have remained so salient and why Americans have easily been led into the temptation to think that those successes can be recapitulated elsewhere. However, the conditions that were common to those two cases (and also to the similar cases of Austria and Italy) have rarely been found in other times and in other regions. In particular, they are almost totally absent in the contemporary Middle East and most of the Muslim world.

Five conditions were important facilitators for the U.S. democratization projects in Germany, Japan, Austria, and Italy after World War II:

(1) An industrial economy and a modern society. Economic development in these four countries had reached the point that there was, as we noted above, a substantial middle class and industrial working class; in normal times, these had achieved their political representation in democratic political parties (liberal democratic in the case of the middle class, social democratic in the case of the working class).

Turning to the contemporary Middle East, we might think that several countries now have a substantial middle class (although clearly not an industrial working class). However, the economic wealth of Middle Eastern countries is almost wholly the result of oil exports, and the middle class is largely found among the employees in the state sector. It is a dependent and unproductive middle class, rather than the independent and productive one that characterized Central Europe and Japan; the former provides a weak and unstable basis for liberal democracy.

(2) A prior liberal-democratic experience. Our second condition flows out of the first. Democratic parties had already existed in these four countries in the 1920s and, in some cases, even in earlier decades, i.e., before the Great Depression (Germany, Austria, and Japan) or other social conflicts (Italy) brought about the collapse of the liberal-democratic system and the advent of an authoritarian regime. This meant that the United States in the late 1940s could reach back and build upon democratic memories, practices, and even particular leaders from the earlier democratic era.

In this respect, the contrast of our four post-war cases with the contemporary Middle East could hardly be greater. Hardly any Middle Eastern country has ever been a liberal democracy (Turkey and perhaps Lebanon are arguable exceptions); in one country after another, there is no historical base or precedent whatsoever for the U.S. democratization project.

(3) Total military defeat. In 1945, the old authoritarian regimes had been totally defeated militarily by the United States and its allies. As a consequence, they had been totally discredited ideologically. This opened up a great political space that could be filled by the liberal-democratic ideology of the victorious United States.

One might argue that Saddam Hussein's regime experienced a similar military defeat and ideological discrediting in 2003. However, the Sunni population of Iraq, which was tied so closely to the Baath regime, obviously does not agree. Military defeat is not the term that comes to mind when we are describing the Sunni insurgency in Iraq. Moreover, since the U.S. military is now so tied down and stretched so thin in Iraq, there is no prospect whatever that it will be able to totally defeat and occupy another Middle Eastern country, as it did with the enemy countries in World War II.

(4) A greater foreign threat. Of course, the populations of the defeated countries disliked their occupation by the U.S. Army. However, they feared a potential occupation by the Soviet Army even more, and it soon became clear to them it was the U.S. Army that provided the best protection against a Soviet invasion, or against a Soviet-supported Communist revolution.

Some semblance of this condition is also present in Iraq. The Kurds fear a threat posed by Turkey, but they fear the Sunnis of Iraq even more. This is why they have been such close and cooperative allies of the United States. The Sunnis themselves are coming to view the Shiites of Iraq as their greatest enemy, but they continue to loath the U.S. military forces as well. As for the Shiites, it is possible that one day they might come to fear a threat posed by Sunni Saudi Arabia or even by Shiite Iran. For now, however, they fear the Iraqi Sunnis most of all, and their militias are also verging on a conflict with the U.S. military. All in all, the complex array of foreign threats in Iraq does not wonderfully concentrate Iraqi minds in the way the Soviet threat did in our four cases after World War II.

(5) An ethnically homogeneous population. This fifth condition may be the most relevant to the contrast between the four post-war successes and the contemporary Middle East. Although these four countries were certainly divided by class conflicts, they were, in ethnic terms, among the most homogenous societies in the world. There was very little prospect that one ethnic group, especially one located in a distinct territory, would try to secede from the rest of the country.

The contrast with the contemporary Middle East, and particularly with Iraq, again could not be greater. As is now well-known (and was always well-known to scholars of Middle Eastern politics and society), Iraq has never been ethnically-homogeneous; from its creation in 1920, it has always been divided into three ethnic parts, the Sunni Arabs, the Shiite Arabs, and the Kurds (who are Sunni, but non-Arab), with the Sunni minority until 2003 imposing an authoritarian and usually brutal regime upon the Shiite majority and the Kurdish minority. Moreover, the three ethnic parts have roughly corresponded to three territorial parts, with the Sunni Arabs in the center, the Shiite Arabs in the south, and the Kurds in the north (with mixed populations in major cities). Iraq was always an unstable equilibrium, a partition waiting to happen, artificially held together by the iron bonds of an auth- oritarian and brutal regime. In such circumstances, "regime change" would inevitably result in state change or even country change; in particular democratization would mean that one or more of the three ethnic and territorial parts of Iraq would vote to separate itself from the others. One could have an Iraq, but without democracy. Alternatively, one could have democracy, but without an Iraq. But one could not have both.

To get some sense of what democratization could produce in a country with such pronounced ethnic heterogeneity, one would have had to look not at West Germany and Japan in the late 1940s but instead at the recent (and very extensive) experience of democratization in the former Communist countries. Certainly, one would have to especially look at the exper- ience of democratization in the Balkans, which was once called the Near East and which is not that far geographically and sociologically from the contemporary Middle East.

Here, the evidence is unambiguous. In virtually every country in the Communist world where there was ethnic heterogeneity, democratization (which included free elections) was followed immediately by secession and partition. This was largely peaceful in the case of the Slavic and the Baltic republics of the Soviet Union and in the case of the "velvet divorce" between the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. It was violent and even genocidal in the case of the Caucasian republics of the Soviet Union and in the case of several of the republics of Yugoslavia. But be the process peaceful or violent, the democratization of multiethnic societies almost always issued in secession and partition. Given these results of democratization in multiethnic countries of the Communist world in the 1990s -- especially the violent results in the Caucasus and the Balkans, which are so proximate to Iraq both geographically and historically -- it is incredible that anyone could seriously argue that the most relevant comparisons to Iraq were the homogeneous nations of West Germany and Japan in the 1940s. When neoconservative writers did so, they were therefore either frauds or fools.

The Pervasiveness of Ethnic Divisions in the Muslim World

ETHNIC DIVISIONS AND CONFLICTS are especially pronounced in Iraq, but they are seen throughout the Muslim world. This has important implications for any democratization project there. In appearance, a common faith in Islam unites Muslim countries; the ideal of Islam is that the Muslim world forms one great Islamic community or nation, known as the umma. In reality, however, this appearance of Islamic unity lies atop a myriad of ethnic and tribal divisions that existed before Islam (especially in Muhammad's own Arabia) and that have never been eliminated by Islam. Indeed, one might interpret the Muslim world's intense proclamation of unity as rhetorical compensation for persistent conflict among a multitude of ethnic communities or tribes.

Almost all Muslim countries are really multiethnic or multitribal societies, usually composed of one large ethnic community plus several smaller ones. Often, each ethnic community is concentrated in a particular region of the country. The actual basis for most political behavior in Muslim countries is these ethnic or tribal communities; most people act to preserve or promote the interests of their own ethnic community or tribe against the interests of other ones. Very little sense of the public interest or the common good exists in Muslim countries; left alone, these communities or tribes would war with each other despite the purported unity of Islam.

In most cases, one ethnic community or tribe imposes a peace of sorts on the others and then becomes strong enough to form a state. Given the condition of persistent and pervasive ethnic and tribal conflict, this state will be authoritarian-a Hobbesian Leviathan. As we have seen, this pattern of a uniethnic state ruling over a multiethnic or multitribal society clearly characterized Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Similarly, before being ousted by the United States in 2001, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan represented the domination of the Pashtuns over several other ethnic groups. This pattern also exists in contemporary Iran, Syria, and Sudan, and some version of it exists in Pakistan, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, and many other Muslim countries as well. When the ruling community is especially small, it compensates for weakness in its numbers by extreme brutality in its repressive measures (e.g., Baathist Iraq and Syria). In any case, the multiethnic society is held together and held down by a uniethnic state, particularly by its security apparatus.

These Muslim political systems are really small multinational empires. Indeed, they are governed in ways similar to those that the Ottomans used to govern their empire. The Ottoman Turks provided the state or "ruling institution" that kept a wide variety of ethnic communities or "millets" (some Muslim and some non-Muslim) operating within one imperial system. A millet often served a distinct economic or social function; the function of the Ottoman Turks was to rule the rest. The Ottoman Empire ended more than 80 years ago, but its basic pattern lives on in most contemporary Muslim countries, which remain miniature and stunted versions of the old Ottoman imperial system, with the contemporary state security apparatus playing the ruling-institution role. The members of the different ethnic communities under the ruling state do not see themselves as citizens who enjoy equal rights within one homogenous nation. Instead, they see themselves as distinct tribes or ethnic groups, at most a collection of nations within a nation but not of it, or a nation within an empire. This is hardly a promising basis for a viable liberal democracy.

Such multiethnic society/uniethnic state contraptions are inherently unstable. They are accidents, secessions, and partitions waiting to happen. Whenever the state is suddenly and sharply weakened (as with Iran during the Revolution of 1979 and with Iraq during the Gulf War of 1991 and during the Iraq war since 2003), the subordinate ethnic communities try to break away from what they see to be a brutal but now-failed empire. Since these communities are concentrated in particular regions, their efforts amount to secession. The multiethnic empire survives when a new or renewed brutal state security apparatus is constructed, which then puts down the secession. Of course, in contemporary Iraq, the United States, because of the very nature of its democratization project, has prevented the construction of any such security apparatus. The result is an Iraq that is neither a multiethnic empire nor a liberal democracy, but merely an ongoing anarchy amounting to a civil war.

Idealists versus Realists

THE PERENNIAL U.S. EFFORTS at democratization abroad have given rise to a perennial debate over U.S. foreign policy-the famous and long-standing debate between "idealists" and "realists." As it happens, each of these two camps can make a useful contribution to our examination into the successes and failures of U.S. democratization projects. Unfortunately, it is also the case that each camp can lead us into serious errors as well.

In their pure form, idealists neglect the historical record of the failed projects, and they therefore ignore the lessons that might be drawn from these failures. This kind of behavior has certainly been true of the promoters of the recent U.S. project in the Middle East. The idealists also neglect the historical record in another sense: they normally ignore the cultural and social particularities -- and therefore the realities -- of the countries which they seek to democratize. This too has been a characteristic of the promoters of the recent project in the Middle East. The most pronounced examples of this willful ignorance of cultural, social, and historical particularities have been the neoconservatives, especially (and most consequentially) in their writings on Iraq.

Indeed, the idealists normally ignore the cultural and social particularities of America itself. The neoconservatives are always talking about America being a "propositional nation" (i.e., one based upon universal ideals and with no distinctive, inherited ethnic or even national identity), as if Americans were all intellectuals engaged in discourse and debates about propositions, like the neoconservatives themselves. But, of course, most Americans have their own very real, immediate, and particular ethnic identities and economic interests, and they normally do not see these identities and interests advanced by abstract (and bloody and costly) democratization projects abroad. This is why the Bush administration's (and the neoconservatives') project in Iraq has been left with virtually no support within the American public.

Conversely, in their pure form, realists neglect the historical record of the successful democratization projects, and they therefore overlook countries where conditions have developed that could facilitate democratization in the future. This kind of failure of imagination led realists in the 1980s to be skeptical of the real potential for successful democratization in most of Eastern Europe. Their focus on past cultural, social, and historical particularities led them to assume that the dismal political history of the region could only be repeated. However, by the 1980s, the economic development of much of Eastern Europe had created social and economic conditions comparable to those reached in Central Europe several decades before, i.e., by the 1920s. In addition, the growing connections between Communist Eastern Europe and liberal-democratic Western Europe made the liberal-democratic alternative seem both very attractive and very feasible.

Moreover, and ironically, the realists normally neglect a cultural and social particularity of America itself, and that is the fact that virtually any major U.S. foreign policy has to be legitimated with some kind of democratic rhetoric. This is a necessary part of bringing certain groups (especially liberal professionals and professional liberals) into a grand coalition to support the policy. Finally, a fundamental reality about America's position in the world is that in general U.S. national interests are indeed best served and advanced when other states become established liberal democracies.

A Different Kind of Democratization: Illiberal Democracy

DEMOCRATIZATION IN THE MIDDLE EAST is now obviously a failed project. Is it possible, however, that there are other regions where democratization might still have a promising future? As it happens, there is one such region, and that is Latin America. However, the form democratization is most likely to take there will not be similar to the American one, i.e., liberal democracy, complete with some kind of separation of powers, constitutionalism, rule of law, and minority rights. It is more likely to be what Fareed Zakaria has called "illiberal democracy," particularly populist democracy, marked perhaps by generally free elections but also by presidential dominance, pervasive executive discretion, and majority rule.

Populist, or illiberal, democracy seems to be a natural political tendency, and a perennial political system, in much of Latin America. It has certainly returned in a big way in that region in the 2000s, replacing the more liberal-democratic regimes of the 1990s (which were often derided as imposing "neo-liberalism" and "the Washington Consensus" on their citizens and on behalf of U.S. interests). The most extreme versions of populism now rule in Venezuela and Bolivia, but some version of populist democracy now prevails in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, and perhaps Brazil. Populist movements also recently came close to electoral victory in Mexico and Peru. All in all, Latin America has been swept by a major wave of populist democracy in the past few years.

Populism in Latin America is also anti-"imperialist," which means that it is usually anti-American. As with Islamism in the Middle East, free elections in Latin America are now putting into power governments that resent or even loathe the United States. If America were not now bogged down in its grueling war in Iraq, U.S. policy makers and the American media would forever be talking about the populist threat in Latin America.

In the fullness of time, the recurring economic and social failures of populist democracy will probably discredit it, just as the failures of liberal democracy have recently discredited that political alternative. Some new (or renewed) system will then arise in Latin America, perhaps yet another variation on an authoritarian theme. But it will probably be at least a generation before we see a revival of the distinctively-U.S. project of liberal democracy in Latin America.

A Different Kind of Liberalism: Liberal Undemocracy

IF DEMOCRATIZATION WITHOUT LIBERALISM is the likely future for Latin America, is there a place where we might hope for the obverse, i.e., liberalism without democracy, or liberal undemocracy, so to speak? After all, most Western European countries passed through this stage in the 19th century on their path from authoritarian monarchy to liberal democracy. As it happens, there is indeed one very large country where a phase of liberal undemocracy is a reasonable prospect -- China.

The extremely rapid economic development of China over the past two decades has produced a new, and numerous, middle class, and, like the classical European and American middle classes, the Chinese middle class is largely independent and certainly productive. For many practical purposes, the Chinese Communist Party has devolved economic decision-making to a new and dynamic elite of entrepreneurs. Moreover, there is now a very well-educated, but also very sensible, professional sector. But entrepreneurs and professionals normally seek the legal and political stability and predictability that come with the expansion of the rule of law and constitutionalism. Historically, these two sectors have formed a strong constituency for liberal institutions, even if these institutions are not yet really democratic, and they do so in China today.

The Chinese entrepreneurs and professionals have become essential, indeed central, to China's developmental path, and the Communist regime understands and accepts this. Because of the vigorous push of these entrepreneurs and professionals for the rule of law and even constitutionalism, the prospects are good that China will move progressively -- albeit in fits and starts -- toward a more liberal regime. If so, China will follow along a path taken in earlier decades by other East Asian countries, in particular Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. However, because of the vast size and diversity of China, full democracy itself would probably unleash a variety of centrifugal tendencies and secessionist movements. At least, this is what the Chinese Communist Party firmly believes. The road to democracy in China will be far more rocky and risky than it was in the much smaller and more homogenous countries of Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. Consequently, we are not going to get truly democratic institutions in China anytime soon, even though we may soon see some truly liberal institutions there -- in short, liberal undemocracy.

Is There Any Future for Liberal Democratization?

FINALLY, DESPITE THE SOMBER ANALYSIS, the dismal science, that we have offered in this essay, is there any place where there can be progress in the future in the direction of good old, American-style, liberal democracy? Perhaps the place to look is near where there has been such dramatic progress in that direction in the recent past. Certainly, the grand narrative of post-Communist Eastern Europe represents one of the most striking successes of full democratization, and liberal democratization at that. Is it possible that the region immediately to the south and the east of Eastern Europe (which now is once again better thought of as Central Europe) might provide the next chapter in the success story of liberal democratization?

At the moment, this region does not seem very promising. Illiberal, particularly populist, democracy seems to be the most prevalent political tendency in much of the contemporary Balkans, specifically in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Macedonia. These countries are democratic in the sense of free elections, but they are hardly characterized by stable and effective political institutions or by the rule of law. Further east, something similar seems to prevail in Ukraine, the locale of the "orange" revolution, in which popular demonstrations brought about regime change, but the new government has turned out to be ineffective and unstable.

Much of the populations of these countries want to become members of the European Union, however, and indeed Romania and Bulgaria are scheduled to do so next year. But the E.U. is exerting great pressure upon these countries, as a condition for membership, to strengthen the rule of law, constitutionalism, and liberal institutions generally. The struggle between populist democracy and liberal democracy will likely be the main story in this region over the next decade.

It will be a story, however, whose major author will be the European Union, and not the United States. The E.U., closer to this region in almost every sense -- geographical, economic, and cultural -- will be both necessary and sufficient to make this one more success story for liberal-democratization projects. The United States, remote in almost every sense, has very little that it can add (although with its perennial, crude over-simplifications, it can subtract). And so, it seems that, as we look around the world and peer into the future, we can discern a variety of ongoing democratic and liberal projects -- populist democracy, liberal undemocracy, and even liberal democracy. But in regard to any traditional U.S. democratization project, we can now discern nothing in the future at all.

James Kurth is the Claude Smith Professor of Political Science at Swarthmore College, the editor of Orbis, and a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. This essay is the second in a ten-part series being published in successive issues of The American Spectator under the general title, "The Pursuit of Liberty: Can the Ideals That Made America Great Provide a Model for the World?" The series is supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in this series are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.

This article appeared in the October issue of The American Spectator. To subscribe to our monthly print edition, click here.


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