Tuesday, December 07, 2004

More Cautious Optimism: A Reply to Dr. Emile

Over at the intellectually challenging Chronicles, Dr. Emile continues his excellent critique of the Liberal Hawks position. Three comments in particular struck me:

The Cold War did not democratize Russia in the end, and there is nothing necessary or inevitable about the result of democratization in the Middle East.

Dr. Emile is correct, Russia is not fully democratized, it is currently in a serious backslide, and one has to question Putin’s commitment to democray. However, I think despite Putin there has been improvement over the former Soviet regime. Also, this anaylysis ignores the Soviet-satelites of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics that are now enjoying freedom, and the Orange-revolution brewing in the Ukraine. The aftermath of the Cold War has not been perfect, but I think the cause of democray was advanced when the Soviet empire collapsed.

Dr. Emile is also correct that democratization in the Middle East is not inevitable. However, there have been elections in Afganistan and we are moving toward elections in Iraq – 156 parties are registered, 85% of Iraqis plan to vote and 65% are optimistic about their future. And, in my opinion, failure in the Middle East is inevitable if we do nothing.

Dr. Emile argues that we should only use force:

[W]hen attacked or when aiding victims of massive atrocities that are taking place now, and only then under the banner of legitimate international organizations like NATO or the dreaded UN.

I do not believe that force can solve many of our international problems, and I believe we should employ force after much judicious consideration. However, I think force, or a legitimate threat of force, is unfortunately necessary in some situations. In addition, if we wait until atrocities are taking place in the here and now, have we waited too long? Had military force been employed early on in Rwanda or the Sudan would genocide been avoided? I think that sometimes our natural reluctance to engage in the brutality of war often leads to even greater loss of life.

Finally, Dr. Emile comments, "I think the current phase of battle is more similar to WWI."

I am not sure I follow this analogy. WWI was essentially a bloody stalemate between colonial empires in which 9,000,000 lost their lives, and resulted in little or no advancement in democracy. Several thousands Americans, Iraqis, and Afghanis have tragically lost their lives, but I will reiterate there have been elections in Afghanistan and we are on the verge of elections in Iraq. There has been a very unfortunate loss of life, but unlike WWI, I don’t think they were in vain.


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