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Democracy and security are inseparable.

Reader comment on item: After Saddam? Remaking the Mideast

Submitted by Quin Roberts (United States), Feb 11, 2003 at 15:56

In a previous response to this article, elaine bousfield is badly mistaken, when she writes, "A long term plan to ensure Peace and Democracy in the world would not have included…Ronald Reagan's attack on Nicaragua..." President Reagan's aid to the Nicaraguan Contras anticipated by two decades her call for support of "indigenous forces that campaign for democratic change." U.S.-backed armed resistance was instrumental in permitting the election that replaced Sandinista rule with genuine multi-party democracy in that country.

People on the political Left who wish to promote democracy must learn to temper their suspicion of American conservatives with an appreciation of what people like Reagan have done to promote freedom around the world. While the Reagan Doctrine of support for anticommunist guerillas did not focus exclusively on pro-democracy movements, it indisputably (and intentionally) bore democratic fruit.

The overarching strategy of which the Reagan Doctrine was a part produced the greatest victory for peace and freedom in my lifetime: the replacement of Soviet communism with democratic institutions in Russia. Peter Schweizer, in his book, Reagan's War, sums up that strategy in the words of its architect, Richard Pipes: "U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union proceeds on the assumption that the maintenance of power by the Soviet regime rests ultimately on force and that Soviet external aggressiveness stems in part from the nature of the Soviet political system."

Acting on this insight and his belief that a slave state could not compete with America, Reagan challenged the Soviets militarily, and they collapsed, taking much of the nuclear threat with them. The fact that nations with the least political freedom tend to have the highest proportion of their population in arms is evidence that internal oppression is a principle source of international aggression. In this light, a policy that does not aim for democracy in Iraq is unlikely to result in lasting peace.

During the 1980s, I argued frequently with peace activists, many freshly returned from Nicaragua, who were laboring to protect the Sandinista regime from our "imperialist" aggression. In hindsight, their efforts served only to delay the true democracy sought by the Nicaraguan people. Unfortunately, that is how today's "peace" movement is likely to be viewed a decade from now.
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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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