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Mandelbaum Premature?

Reader comment on item: A Better World[, Explains Michael Mandelbaum]

Submitted by Ruben Perlmutter (United States), Jan 2, 2003 at 18:29

I think Mandelbaum's assertion that peace, democracy and free markets have vanquished the competition may be somewhat premature (or naive):

That our pax americana has made peace a 'normal condition' belies the problems that exist (and have always existed) on the fringes of empire: whether in North Korea, Zimbabwe, Congo, Columbia, let alone the 'exceptions' of the southern Philippines, eastern Indonesia, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Nigeria, Sudan, and the Middle East, peace is not the normal condition. Moreover, as world population increases and nations begin to compete for limited resources (I'm a Malthusian at heart and, believe that, beginning in the next few decades available food resources, let alone available energy resources, will not keep up with demand), will there not be wars over resources? Will a permanent underclass be created in nations unable to properly feed or to provide adequate jobs and compensation for their populations -- an underclass hostile to peace, democracy, free markets and certainly more likely to commit crime and undermine security (look at the crime rates in Latin America since the 1994 tequila effect)? I think our pax americana during a time of relative abundance may be no more than a respite from a world where insecurity and hostility, if not outright hot war, is the normal condition.

How can democracy have vanquished its competition when it does not exist in China and much of the Muslim world -- and when its existence in Russia, Africa and Latin America is subject to so much undermining fraud and corruption? I do agree that democracy is in the ascendancy ... but, again, my cup-half-empty outlook suggests that the increasing underclass will look to demogogues providing easy solutions -- let's blame the West, the US, Israel, the Jews, Weimar democrats, whatever -- or to strongmen providing security and subsistence in exchange for political freedom.

Free market capitalism is also in the ascendancy, but leading economists (Stiglitz, etc.) are suggesting that a certain level of protectionism is required for less developed countries to emerge from poverty. Also free market capitalism is only being partially implemented in certain places (e.g., much of Latin America) and the populist reaction to its failure is being attributed to the concept, not to its half-assed implementation. And how will world economies respond to the Chinese juggernaut in the 21st century? I think by more protectionism.

To the extent that Mandelbaum's views tell us where we've come from over the last two centures, I have no problem with his conclusions. But if his conclusions are forward-looking, I think we need to carefully analyze his assumptions ... and there will be different conclusions depending on one's world view.

Ruben Perlmutter
Dallas, Texas



Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Reader comments (17) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
3The strength of democracy [250 words]Brian JacksonFeb 1, 2003 16:576231
Mandelbaum Premature? [440 words]Ruben PerlmutterJan 2, 2003 18:295434
4Democracy is dictatorship by the majority. [125 words]Goh Heung Yong.Jan 1, 2003 19:435393
Democracy [126 words]B DormanAug 31, 2006 20:335393
A Question of Race [44 words]Rophe OmegaMar 6, 2011 13:095393
Islamic history contradicts [30 words]Charles CouryJan 1, 2003 15:355384
Limited Government key [21 words]Ricardo PedrazaJan 1, 2003 13:345379
UK [112 words]IsaDec 28, 2002 10:455223
Peace, Democracy and Free Market [45 words]Muhammad SiddiquiDec 28, 2002 01:115211
Great Disaster [273 words]Dr Mac BarksdaleDec 27, 2002 23:095204
1Good ideology [250 words]MottyDec 27, 2002 20:575199
Re: peace, democracy, and free markets [212 words]David RomeroDec 27, 2002 18:105189
Mandelbaum [91 words]Martin SchulbergDec 27, 2002 16:075178
Islamic facisim [144 words]Glenn KlotzDec 27, 2002 14:205171
Vehement Disagreement with Mandelbaum [138 words]Sy SteinbergDec 27, 2002 10:425163
Too optimistic [190 words]Benjamin StephensonDec 27, 2002 09:105160
Totalitarian ideologies [252 words]AnonymousDec 27, 2002 04:585156

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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