In an interview with the Washington Post, Kerry indicated that as president he would "play down the promotion of democracy as a leading goal in dealing with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China and Russia, instead focusing on other objectives that he said are more central to the United States' security."
Kerry is mistaken in concluding promoting democracy is in the middle east is not an objective central to U.S. security.
In many ways, Kerry laid out a foreign policy agenda that appeared less idealistic about U.S. aims than those of President Bush or even fellow Democrat Bill Clinton. Although Kerry said it is important to sell democracy and "market it" around the world, he demurred when questioned about a number of important countries that suppress human rights and freedoms.
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During the interview, he eschewed the soaring rhetoric on freedom and democracy that are commonplace in Bush's speeches and news conferences. At one point, he stumbled over the words when he tried to emphasize his interest in promoting American values: "The idea of America is, I think proudly and chauvinistically, the best idea that we've developed in this world."
Of promoting democracy overseas, Kerry said: "How fast you can do that and how rapidly others can embrace it and what can be expected over a period of time varies from place to place." Emphasizing his interest in setting realistic goals, he added: "Beware of the presidential candidate who just sort of says with a big paintbrush we're going to make everything all right overnight."
In The Age of Sacred Terror Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon explain that the roots of Islamic extremism which spawns evildoers like Osama Bin Laden lies in the anger and frustration from all the difficulties under which they live—the poverty, unemployment, oppression. The only to eliminate the roots of the extremist movements is to give these people hope. To do that requires freedom and democracy. These sentiments are also expressed by Professor Bernard Lewis.
Last December the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal published an article by Lewis, entitled “Democracy and the Enemies of Freedom.” In that article Lewis sets forth the objectives of the American military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq: first and more immediate, to deter and defeat terrorism; second, to bring freedom and democracy, to these countries and the rest of the Middle East. Lewis writes that while establishing democracy in the Middle East will not be quick or easy, history suggests it is possible.
Lewis then explains that we are engaged in a titanic struggle of global dimensions. If you read his books and grasp what type of civilization the terrorists want to impose on the entire world, you understand that we must not only take on this fight; we have to win it.
The creation of a free society, as the history of existing democracies in the world makes clear, is no easy matter. The experience of the Turkish republic over the last half century and of some other Muslim countries more recently has demonstrated two things: first, that it is indeed very difficult to create a democracy in such a society, and second, that although difficult, it is not impossible.
The study of Islamic history and of the vast and rich Islamic political literature encourages the belief that it may well be possible to develop democratic institutions--not necessarily in our Western definition of that much misused term, but in one deriving from their own history and culture, and ensuring, in their way, limited government under law, consultation and openness, in a civilized and humane society. There is enough in the traditional culture of Islam on the one hand and the modern experience of the Muslim peoples on the other to provide the basis for an advance towards freedom in the true sense of that word.
The war against terror and the quest for freedom are inextricably linked, and neither can succeed without the other. The struggle is no longer limited to one or two countries, as some Westerners still manage to believe. It has acquired first a regional and then a global dimension, with profound consequences for all of us.
President Bush understands what is at stake and has set us on the correct, probably the only course, which can guarantee that our way of life survives.
In a recent interview in The Atlantic Online, Professor Lewis stated that he was "cautiously optimistic about what's happening in Iraq." He is more concerned about "what's happening here in the United States." He's afraid we will abandon the Iraqis as we did in 1991. I pray we stick with President Bush and win this fight.