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Exporting Democracy: Fulfilling America's Destiny

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Should America try to bring democracy to countries that are young or poor or that have cultures very different from our own? This book shows why the sophisticates have been wrong, why idealism offers the most sound basis for US policy. Since its small beginnings in 1776, America has served as the world's great engine of democracy. Our aid and trade, our overseas broadcasts Should America try to bring democracy to countries that are young or poor or that have cultures very different from our own? This book shows why the sophisticates have been wrong, why idealism offers the most sound basis for US policy. Since its small beginnings in 1776, America has served as the world's great engine of democracy. Our aid and trade, our overseas broadcasts and libraries, our cloak-and-dagger exploits, but above all else, the power of our example have been forces of moral good throughout the world. Foreseeing a Pax Americana in the next century resulting not from war or diplomacy but from the triumph of democratic ideals, the author argues that the effort to spread democracy further should form the core of US foreign policy.


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Should America try to bring democracy to countries that are young or poor or that have cultures very different from our own? This book shows why the sophisticates have been wrong, why idealism offers the most sound basis for US policy. Since its small beginnings in 1776, America has served as the world's great engine of democracy. Our aid and trade, our overseas broadcasts Should America try to bring democracy to countries that are young or poor or that have cultures very different from our own? This book shows why the sophisticates have been wrong, why idealism offers the most sound basis for US policy. Since its small beginnings in 1776, America has served as the world's great engine of democracy. Our aid and trade, our overseas broadcasts and libraries, our cloak-and-dagger exploits, but above all else, the power of our example have been forces of moral good throughout the world. Foreseeing a Pax Americana in the next century resulting not from war or diplomacy but from the triumph of democratic ideals, the author argues that the effort to spread democracy further should form the core of US foreign policy.

19 review for Exporting Democracy: Fulfilling America's Destiny

  1. 4 out of 5

    Naeem

    Two stars for what the author thinks he accomplishes and three for what he actually gets done. This is the best argument I have found for "democratic internationalism" -- the spread of ideals (e.g. so called "democracy") through the use of force. Compare it to Max Boot's Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power. Two chapters in particular are worth the price of the read. Chapter 8, "Imposing Democracy Through Force of Example" shows how the US remade the politics, economic Two stars for what the author thinks he accomplishes and three for what he actually gets done. This is the best argument I have found for "democratic internationalism" -- the spread of ideals (e.g. so called "democracy") through the use of force. Compare it to Max Boot's Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power. Two chapters in particular are worth the price of the read. Chapter 8, "Imposing Democracy Through Force of Example" shows how the US remade the politics, economics, and culture of Germany and Japan and thereby constructed successful "democracy." Muravchik provides incredible details on how General MacArthur re-wrote everything in Japan, including the constitution (written first in English and translated awkwardly into Japanese). The wonder of this chapter is that while Muravchik thinks he is providing evidence for his argument (which he most certainly is), he is also providing a kind of inoculation against his own argument. Students sensitive to colonialism are dumbfounded first by Muravchik's account and then incredulous that anyone could justify such imposition. I always have great fun presenting this chapter. Chapter 9, "Covert Action" is long list-like account of "successful" US covert activities, from the US influence in the post-WWII elections in Italy and Greece to overthrown governments in various 3rd world countries. Again the reading is mesmerizing for two reasons. First, such lists are usually provided by the liberal left and usually leave most readers with a residual but invisible feeling that the evidence might have been doctored. When we get the same list from someone who is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, one worries less about the quality of this kind of evidence. Second, astonishing as it may seem -- please, please read the book to confirm this with your own eyes -- Muravchik is actually proud of these actions and wants his country to be just as proud. He does admit that some of them could have been done with more proficiency, e.g. (if memory serves) the overthrow of Allende in Chile. But mostly he uses the examples of military force and covert activities to demonstrate how his version of "democratic idealism" -- the responsibility to force others to be free (my words, not his) is something that the US must continue to take up. One doesn't know whether to laugh or cry (both is usually what I do, and usually at the same time.) The are two morals to this tale; one is his and one is mine. His: interestingly, twice in the book (intro and conclusion) he argues that once the US is able to teach/force the rest of the world to be free and democratic, the US will lose its hegemony thus becoming just another country within the world. There is a vortex or black hole here that pulls Muravchik in and leads him to an astounding conclusion, namely, that his argument works towards undoing the exceptionalism that characterizes the central pathology of US identity. And that the undoing of this pathology will: (1) cause the US to lose its power and supremacy, and that this loss will be (2) good for the US, and (3) good for the world. (There is a powerful lesson here about writing -- it always escapes the author's intentions. Yes, I said always.) Mine: Liberals and lefties can often find the finest presentations and the very best evidence for their causes from the right. Not only Max Boot's book, mentioned above, but also Micheal Scheur's Imperial Hubris comes to mind. If one can get past one's inner violence, it really pays to read such books (he told himself hopefully.)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Greg

  3. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nightocelot

  5. 4 out of 5

    Joseph Stieb

    A thought provoking but deeply flawed book that nicely encapsulates a lot of neocon thinking about America's place in the post Cold War world. Muravchik's main argument isn't terribly original: he says that USFP should be oriented towards spreading democracy around the world because it serves both our interests and ideology (I'd say this is mostly true). He rejects the idea that America was in decline around 1990 and that democracy can only survive in certain cultures or societies. He rightfully A thought provoking but deeply flawed book that nicely encapsulates a lot of neocon thinking about America's place in the post Cold War world. Muravchik's main argument isn't terribly original: he says that USFP should be oriented towards spreading democracy around the world because it serves both our interests and ideology (I'd say this is mostly true). He rejects the idea that America was in decline around 1990 and that democracy can only survive in certain cultures or societies. He rightfully defends the power of the American example of democracy, although he is way too forgiving of America's mistakes and misdeeds and doesn't appreciate how much resentment the US has built up around the world. This was a major blind spot of neocons at the end of the Cold War, leaving them to underrate or dismiss anti-Americanism as sheer irrationality. He also ignores the fact that democracy will not necessarily empower pro-US forces in many parts of the world. For instance, would a democratically elected Egyptian gov't have been more or less pro-American than the Sadat and Mubarak dictatorships (probably not). Surprisingly, he has almost nothing to say about Africa or the Middle East, the world's two least democratic regions. Another major blind spot for neocons here. One of the big problems with the book is a lack of deeper theoretical engagement with key issues around the formation of democracy. He doesn't develop a systematic approach to why democracies succeed or fail, why they form in some places and not others, and the relationship between economic/social developments and democracy formation (for a far more interesting view on these questions, see Fareed Zakaria's Future of Freedom). He also doesn't make the vital distinction between democracy and liberalism: the former is a lot easier to install than the latter, and many of the countries he trumpets as new democracies could hardly be called liberal, leaving massive room for the return of atavistic nationalism, anti-openness, the suppression of minorities, etc (note: the US is not exempt from this problem). In that sense, the book is in a lightweight intellectual class. Far more interesting is his extended discussion of all the means the US has at its disposal to push the world in a democratic direction: military occupation, covert action, crisis diplomacy, the National Endowment for Democracy, the US example, other pro-democracy entities like VOA. He's not a reflexive American imperialist by any means; he acknowledges the unsuitability of using force to spread democracy as a primary goal, especially in the absence of the Cold War. He rightfully treats the Japanese and German cases as exceptional, saying that the main justification for using force should never be spreading democracy. However, his argument for a pro-democracy orientation in foreign aid reflects a great appreciation for the importance of soft power that is uncommon among neocons. Overall, this book is sloppy and rushed, but it still has some parts that scholars of foreign policy should consider. Overall, you don't get the sense of Muravchik as a grinning ideologue, although he may have become one later in his career. I'd recommend it only to scholars of USFP, especially of neoconservatism and the American debate about how to act in the world after the Cold War.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Betsy Aleshire

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cory Dupont

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Sonneville

  10. 4 out of 5

    Yaron

  11. 5 out of 5

    Maurice Lacerda

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mark

  13. 4 out of 5

    Donald Forster

  14. 5 out of 5

    Crazyarms777

  15. 4 out of 5

    R. Gabriel Esteves

  16. 5 out of 5

    General Greysorrow

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sebastian Posada

  18. 5 out of 5

    Santym

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kevin de Graav

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