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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Essay on Spreading Democracy as a Foreign Policy -

Essay on Spreading Democracy as a Foreign Policy

             Amartya Sen, Nobel Laureate, Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, United Kingdom and University Lamont Professor Emeritus, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, once said in an Inaugural World Assembly in India that from the variety of developments that took place in the 20th Century, the one development that stood out is the rise of democracy.  (“Building the World Movement for Democracy, 1999, p.2)
            There was a time when democracy was unpopular among great thinkers of the past.  Aristotle, a notable political thinker and philosopher, had apprehensions about democracy.  He thought that democracy is not the best form of government considering that there is the possibility that democracy may degenerate into mob rule. 
            World history will also show that even during the 19th Century, a number of countries were against democracy.   At the time, the United States was engaged in a bitter struggle against Russia to prevent it from gaining control of the entire Europe and also to prevent the spread of Communism from entire Europe.  Russia was then a powerful country with its empire extending across half of Europe.  A testament of their strength and superiority is the fact that they beat the United States in a race towards the moon as it was able to lunch the first satellite, Sputnik, to the man. 
            Time however revealed that Communism or Dictatorship or Tyranny does not last.  Any form of government that does not respect the people, their freedom and liberty will not last.  Democracy’s strength was slowly recognized by the world.  A testament to the realization of the power of democracy is the number of countries that had converted to democracy in the last few decades.  During the 1970s there were only about 40 democracies in the world (“President Bush Discusses Freedom in Iraq and Middle East”2003, p.2). During this period, Portugal and Spain conducted free elections, a step towards democracy.  Soon, free societies spread in Korea, Taiwan and in other parts of East Asia.  By the year 1990, every country Central Europe that was once under Communist Dictatorship collapsed and that during 20th Century, there are around 120 democratic countries in the world. (“President Bush Discusses Freedom in Iraq and Middle East”2003, p.2)    
            This essay seeks to discuss the importance of spreading the growth of democracy to the world.  Initially discussion will be made about democracy and the elements of democracy.  It will be followed by explanation of the benefits the world stands to gain from the spread of democracy. 

            It is very difficult to formulate a precise definition of what democracy means.  There is however a consensus among political thinkers of the common elements presents in a democracy.  One manifestation of a democracy is that is a mechanism that allows the people to freely choose their leaders by way of an election. Second manifestation is that those who desire to be leaders must compete for popular support.  During the campaign the aspirants try to convince the voters that their own platform of government is superior and more responsive to the needs of the people.   Third manifestation is that the vast and extensive powers of government are restrained by the principle of accountability to the public.  The Bill of Rights seeks is not only an enumeration of the rights of the people but a restriction or limitation on the powers of government.  Fourth is that democracy is characterized by the primacy of civil rights and liberties such as but not limited to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom against unwarranted search and seizure.    
Importance of Spreading Democracy as a Foreign Policy 
            After the end of the Cold War era, the world is still not a safer place to live in.  A testament to this is the September 11 attack against the United States territory.  The persons responsible are openly declaring that they are hostile against the United States because of its foreign policies and its perceived attacks against Muslim countries.  It bears stressing that these terrorists are not the enemies of the United States alone.  Any person who threatens the peace and security of another person is an enemy of humanity. 
            The world is now facing a different battle.   If during the Cold War the battles were fought by means of armies who confront each other in direct attacks.  The war against terrorism involves treachery and deceit where the enemies approach us from behind or come from places where we least expect it.  They hi-jacked airplanes and cause it to crash through the tallest buildings we have.  They put on leather jackets full of explosives and cause them to explode in places where there is the most number of people.  They ride in cars full of explosives and detonate them in places where there is the most number of people.  The conventional guns, machine guns, tanks and nuclear weapons that were used before have all been replaced by unconventional weapons such as human bodies, airplanes and cars.  
            It is the premise of this essay that the reason why terrorism exists because of the inherent inequality that exists all over the world.  There are people who are suffering from abject poverty.  There are people who are homeless and victims of violence.  There are people who have not had the opportunity for an adequate education.  There are children who are dying from hunger and malnutrition.  There are people who have lost all hope in change.  There are people who have become slaves of hopelessness.  These kinds of people can be manipulated easily by people who have hidden agenda and who pursue their own selfish goals. 
            Democracy can help put a stop to terrorism and violence because “democracy leads to liberty and liberty is good” (Sean M. Lynn-Jones 1998, p.4).  Everybody desires to be freed from poverty.  Everybody wants to have liberty to exercise his religion, to speak his mind, to his own private property which results from his own hard work.  Democracy promotes the rights and liberties of the people based on the principle of popular sovereignty.  This means that government exists for the people and that every leader is accountable for the welfare of his own constituent. 
            United States must promote the principles of democracy so that other countries may enjoy better governance.  Democracy leads to increase in the number of people who practices free speech, free expression, free religion, and liberty of abode.  This means that the other governments will be made more accountable to the people.  Corruption, tyranny and oppression will be a thing of the past.  The days of warrantless arrests, executions for no possible reason and imposition of imprisonment despite absence of proof will be stopped.
            Another reason why democracy should be the United States foreign policy is because democracy reduces the likelihood of violence, civil unrest and terrorism (Sean M. Lynn-Jones 1998, p.4). The world is aware of how many people Saddam Hussein has executed during his reign.  The late Ferdinand Marcos, former dictator of the Republic of the Philippines, also placed in prison and executed thousands of people during his several decades of rule.  Studies also confirm this fact.  According to R.J. Rummel, in democratic governments, only 0.14% of populations (on average) die annually in internal violence. The corresponding figure for authoritarian regimes was 0.59% and for totalitarian regimes 1.48%. (Sean M. Lynn-Jones 1998, p.5)  Research also shows that citizens of democratic governments are far less likely to die at the hands of their governments.
            There is less likelihood of violence in democratic countries, unlike in authoritarian regimes where the leader not only has the power to make the laws but also to implement them, in democratic governments, their own constitution limits the exercise of power by their leaders.  There is proper balance between the powers of the government and the rights of the people.  Also, it is implicit in democratic governments that they allow the people to freely express their sentiments and that there is a mechanism by which people may participate in the running of the affairs of the government. 
            Spreading democracy must remain one of the United States foreign policy because democracy gives the people the chance to be free from poverty.  In other forms of government, there is no incentive for people to work hard and save money.  Money and property are either owned by the government or corrupted by the government.   Although it is true that there was a time when Russia’s annual growth exceeded that of the United States, it is also true that Communist countries were not able to sustain it.  Experts also suggest that countries like China will not be able to sustain its growth rate and may eventually lead to its collapse.  (Barbara Crosette, 1997, p.3)  One reason why democratic countries are able to sustain their growth is because of the presence of market economies. (Sean M. Lynn-Jones 1998, p.6)  Democratic counties believe in the principles of private ownership and laissez-faire.  They also believe that competition will greatly benefit the public in the sense of better products and better services.  The connection between liberal economy and economic performance is corroborated by a study conducted by Freedom House.  According to the study, it found that the countries rated “’free’ generated 81% of the world's output even though they had only 17% of the world's population.” (Joshua Gordon, 1996). 

            The United States remains as one of the super powers in the world today.  It has to spread the fruits of democracy not only because it will inure to its own benefit in the sense that it will eliminated the existing threats of terrorism against but it has a moral obligation to improve the lives of other people.  As a member of the family nations and as a country being emulated and followed by other countries, the United States must ensure that the other countries and their people enjoy the blessings and ideals of democracy. 

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