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View Full Version : Does the United States of America have an obligation to spread democracy?


Jenson71
05-10-2006, 09:24 AM
Through economic, maybe military means? What are your thoughts?

jAZ
05-10-2006, 09:28 AM
Someone has a paper to write!

Jenson71
05-10-2006, 09:35 AM
Someone has a paper to write!

No, jAZ. I would expect you to be one of the last to start off saying that.

Taco John
05-10-2006, 09:37 AM
Only if they're serious about it. Half-assing it only causes strife in the world. If we're only going to spread democracy to countries that are rich in resources, while we leave oppressed countries to squalor, then we're not really spreading Democracy... we're colonizing... we're spreading America.

If we're going to participate in worldwide organizations like the UN that give nation states a democratic vote that don't provide their own citizens with the same liberty to vote for their own leadership, then we're part of the problem.

I'm of the opinion that we should pull out of the UN and start the United League of Democratic Nations that works towards true democratization, and avoids colonization.

oldandslow
05-10-2006, 09:39 AM
No, the US has no right, nor obligation to spread its way of life to other cultures.

jAZ
05-10-2006, 09:43 AM
No, jAZ. I would expect you to be one of the last to start off saying that.
Maybe I'm wrong, but haven't we seen a pattern of these sort of out of the blue (yet very specfic and quite academic sounding) questions being tied to projects/papers/exams in the past?

Not trying to insult you with the observation, but with it being May (end of the semester) and all, it made a ton of sense.

You have to admit, you aren't a regular with a history of posting such questions once a week, or anything.

banyon
05-10-2006, 09:43 AM
I think our obligation is to provide freedoms that are regarded generally as universal rights.

But if someone wants to organize themselves as a kingdom on the other side of the planet, I don't think we should stick our noses in so long as the kingdom has respect for human rights.

Jenson71
05-10-2006, 09:49 AM
Maybe I'm wrong, but haven't we seen a pattern of these sort of out of the blue (yet very specfic and quite academic sounding) questions being tied to projects/papers/exams in the past?

Not trying to insult you with the observation, but with it being May (end of the semester) and all, it made a ton of sense.

You have to admit, you aren't a regular with a history of posting such questions once a week, or anything.

Tied to my projects/papers/exams? No. If something in class discussion comes up, I often take it over here. But I don't use people's ideas/posts for my own assignments. Besides, teachers can use google to see if things like that are happening.

No, I'm just thinking after a great European History class where we discussed invading Iran with ground forces and how much morality is involved with war.

jAZ
05-10-2006, 09:55 AM
Tied to my projects/papers/exams? No. If something in class discussion comes up, I often take it over here. But I don't use people's ideas/posts for my own assignments. Besides, teachers can use google to see if things like that are happening.

No, I'm just thinking after a great European History class where we discussed invading Iran with ground forces and how much morality is involved with war.
I don't know that it would be unethical to discuss the topic here and then write a paper. I don't know what the difference would be between that and a class discussion prior to writing the paper.

You would still need to forumulate your thoughts based on everyones opinions and actually write the paper yourself. Plagerizing from here would be offlimits much like anywhere else, but the web just makes sharing of information and opinions that much easier.

jAZ
05-10-2006, 09:56 AM
BTW, on topic, IMO we have no obligation to do anything. But we might feel it's in our own best interest to do so. Though, it must be done selectively and in the right way in order to be justified.

Jenson71
05-10-2006, 09:56 AM
Well, either way, there is no paper, it's just discussion.

jAZ
05-10-2006, 09:58 AM
Well, either way, there is no paper, it's just discussion.
:thumb:

NewChief
05-10-2006, 10:01 AM
Tied to my projects/papers/exams? No. If something in class discussion comes up, I often take it over here. But I don't use people's ideas/posts for my own assignments. Besides, teachers can use google to see if things like that are happening.


There's nothing wrong with using someone else's ideas as long as you cite the source. There's also nothing wrong with asking people to point you to other primary or secondary sources as that's just like using a bibliography from someone else's work to find more research material.

Jenson71
05-10-2006, 10:13 AM
I haven't thought to much about this, it's just a bunch of thoughts mixed together, but here it goes.

Years from now, maybe a hundred, maybe a thousand, maybe more, this country might no longer exist. We will be a long, well-studied chapter in history.
The world has evolved since the dawn of man. It is evolving at this second and it will continue to evolve thousands of years from now.
America is in a position now where we can promote the evolution to freedom, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are ideals we can choose to promote, or we can choose not to. I believe it is for the good of the human race to promote those ideas.

BucEyedPea
05-10-2006, 10:19 AM
Absolutely not because democracy does not = freedom.

#1 Democracy is not the best form of govt--especially if the people are nuts. They are contentious, short-lived and result in public plunder of the treasury as well as other people's property.

#2 Even our system, a representative republic with limits on it by a written constitution, is not always better if the people are nuts (election of Hitler)

#3 Contrary to popular opinion, democracies do not necessarily ever refrain from attacks one others with force

Shoving our way down another country's throat, with military force, just antagonizes people. Cultures differ. That includes whether it's done in a half-assed manner or not. It's none of our business unless we're attacked!

Ideas are more powerful than bullets. Commercial relations, discourse with one another and technology making the world closer will allow for more freedom in other nations, eventually.

...and America is a "republic....if you can keep it." -- BEN FRANKLIN

Amnorix
05-10-2006, 10:22 AM
Just a few random thoughts. THis could be the topic of a book, much less a paper...

1. I don't think all countries and cultures are necessarily "ready" for full-fledged democracy. IMHO democracy is the most advanced form of government possible, and in order to have an EFFECTIVE democracy, the citizens of that country, its military, and its leaders, need to really be able to embrace the concept and cooperate to make it work.

2. I think America is best positioned to help identify and assist fledgling movements towards democracy, in countries where it would likely take hold, and try to push things along in whatever manner makes the most sense for that particular situation. I do believe we should do this when/where it makes sense.

BucEyedPea
05-10-2006, 10:38 AM
1. I don't think all countries and cultures are necessarily "ready" for full-fledged democracy.

That must mean us too.
Thank god if it does.

Fishpicker
05-10-2006, 11:24 AM
No, the US has no right, nor obligation to spread its way of life to other cultures.

Cochise
05-10-2006, 11:39 AM
I don't think we are obligated per se, but if people are being brutalized and democracy is their wish, but they can't achieve it because of rule by an oppressive few, then it's a good thing to empower them. Not that we should do it everywhere, in every instance. Just saying.

Dave Lane
05-10-2006, 12:11 PM
No

Dave

'Hamas' Jenkins
05-10-2006, 12:11 PM
I just find it hard to spread 'democracy' through the use of military force. That seems somewhat totalitarian to me :shrug:

patteeu
05-10-2006, 01:09 PM
BTW, on topic, IMO we have no obligation to do anything. But we might feel it's in our own best interest to do so. Though, it must be done selectively and in the right way in order to be justified.

I agree with jAZ completely at this level (and would probably disagree with him on every single detail if we drilled down to specifics).

BucEyedPea
05-10-2006, 01:10 PM
patteeu that's neo-conservatism.

patteeu
05-10-2006, 01:12 PM
I just find it hard to spread 'democracy' through the use of military force. That seems somewhat totalitarian to me :shrug:

You mean like the American revolution (using the term "democracy" loosely as I think the thread starter is using it)?

patteeu
05-10-2006, 01:21 PM
patteeu that's neo-conservatism.

Not necessarily (although I won't deny that I share some of the foreign policy views of the neoconservatives). Almost every ideology except the most dedicated isolationists would support acting in our nations interests abroad. BTW, spreading democracy doesn't necessarily mean we have to invade countries, topple dictators, and install democracies. It could also mean spreading democracy by choosing to deal more favorably with other democracies and less favorably with totalitarian nations (e.g. Taco John's idea of a United League of Democratic Nations) or mutual defense treaties with other democracies (e.g. NATO). Or it could mean spreading democracy by example and through propaganda campaigns (e.g. radio transmissions into totalitarian states).

My agreement with jAZ (who will be shocked to find out that you consider him a neocon btw) is that we have no obligation, but that if it's in our interests to do so we should do it. Neither of us have defined what it would mean to be in our interests nor have we defined what tactics would be appropriate.

BucEyedPea
05-10-2006, 01:27 PM
Not necessarily (although I won't deny that I share some of the foreign policy views of the neoconservatives). Almost every ideology except the most dedicated isolationists would support acting in our nations interests abroad. BTW, spreading democracy doesn't necessarily mean we have to invade countries, topple dictators, and install democracies. It could also mean spreading democracy by choosing to deal more favorably with other democracies and less favorably with totalitarian nations (e.g. Taco John's idea of a United League of Democratic Nations) or mutual defense treaties with other democracies (e.g. NATO). Or it could mean spreading democracy by example and through propaganda campaigns (e.g. radio transmissions into totalitarian states).

My agreement with jAZ (who will be shocked to find out that you consider him a neocon btw) is that we have no obligation, but that if it's in our interests to do so we should do it. Neither of us have defined what it would mean to be in our interests nor have we defined what tactics would be appropriate.


I don't have time to expand on this as I have a class to teach and gotta leave my beloved workstation.

I understand some of the points but it is still activist govt and "interests" is too general. The whole idea is rooted in Woodrow Wilson progressivism. (left-wing) I also have a real bone to pick on the misnowner ( or perjorative) called "isolationism" as we've never been an "isolationist" country even pre-WWI & II. I think a better word is "interventionist."

Later for more...

jAZ
05-10-2006, 01:30 PM
I agree with jAZ completely at this level (and would probably disagree with him on every single detail if we drilled down to specifics).
That who "best interest" part is a booger.

jAZ
05-10-2006, 01:31 PM
You mean like the American revolution (using the term "democracy" loosely as I think the thread starter is using it)?
There is a difference between fighting for your own democracy and fighting to impose someone else with democracy.

patteeu
05-10-2006, 01:49 PM
There is a difference between fighting for your own democracy and fighting to impose someone else with democracy.

Is our own "democracy" spoiled somehow because of the presence of French troops during our revolution?

'Hamas' didn't say anything about imposing democracy. If that's what he's talking about, I'd have to agree that you can't impose democracy on people who don't want it. OTOH, I see no reason why people who do want democracy can't be liberated from an oppressor who stands in their way. We liberated France during WWII and they re-established a democracy.

memyselfI
05-10-2006, 01:50 PM
They (the Gov)/We not only lack the obligation but the justification...

jAZ
05-10-2006, 02:14 PM
Is our own "democracy" spoiled somehow because of the presence of French troops during our revolution?

'Hamas' didn't say anything about imposing democracy. If that's what he's talking about, I'd have to agree that you can't impose democracy on people who don't want it. OTOH, I see no reason why people who do want democracy can't be liberated from an oppressor who stands in their way. We liberated France during WWII and they re-established a democracy.
I don't know what's he's talking about, but you need to have the will of the people to support Democracy. France had the will of our people. It would never have worked had it gone another way (see almost every colonized nation in history).

Jesus
05-10-2006, 02:52 PM
Through economic, maybe military means? What are your thoughts?

Yes.

Nightwish
05-10-2006, 04:07 PM
Through economic, maybe military means? What are your thoughts?
No, we do not have an obligation to spread democracy. One of the things that has caused so much trouble in the world is that some people who've found themselves in power have believed (incorrectly) that we have such a duty. We don't.

Taco John
05-10-2006, 04:51 PM
What I don't understand is why it's always the conservative side who are such bleeding hearts for speading democracy, but ask them about helping people at home, and they freak out about it, complaining about how their tax dollars are being spent.

It leads me to believe that it's a farce. They're not genuinely interested in the people of the country, but instead are interested in the commerce that can be gained along the way. I find that to be an incredibly unethical way to conduct foreign policy.

If we're going to go down the road of spreading democracy, then we need to go full bore... This includes a national boycott of goods coming from non-democratized nations (or at the very least increased tarriffs), and complete, unhindered free trade with democratized nations (on the road to a Libertarian utopia).

Logical
05-10-2006, 05:03 PM
NO

Logical
05-10-2006, 05:31 PM
I think that some people (not just Republicans) like war and others as TJ said like the money they can earn off of war. As far as economics, you will never truly build a Republic (Democracy is bad) buy buying it. Desire is the key to a Republic and bribes are just that bribes.

BucEyedPea
05-10-2006, 10:27 PM
What I don't understand is why it's always the conservative side who are such bleeding hearts for speading democracy, but ask them about helping people at home, and they freak out about it, complaining about how their tax dollars are being spent.

I've also wondered the same thing as a conservative....I mean social engineering abroad is okay but not at home? Wtf? It's all activist govt no matter how you slice it.

BucEyedPea
05-10-2006, 10:33 PM
I don't know what's he's talking about, but you need to have the will of the people to support Democracy. France had the will of our people. It would never have worked had it gone another way (see almost every colonized nation in history).


Not only that, but the American Revolution was mainly started by a small group of dedicated men...not all the people wanted to be severed from the British Crown, as much as we read that in hour history books. In fact there were even war protestors that went to Canada! Many Tories moved to Canada. Some claim it was not a majority that wanted to go to war.

If anyone can find that quote by Winston Churchill, I've looked all over the net for it and just can't seem to find it anywhere. I heard it years ago. It on this very subject. I can somewhat paraphrase it: In any given conflict only 2% know what's going on, 5% watch and the rest don't even know what happened. Something like that.

patteeu
05-11-2006, 11:31 AM
What I don't understand is why it's always the conservative side who are such bleeding hearts for speading democracy, but ask them about helping people at home, and they freak out about it, complaining about how their tax dollars are being spent.

It leads me to believe that it's a farce. They're not genuinely interested in the people of the country, but instead are interested in the commerce that can be gained along the way. I find that to be an incredibly unethical way to conduct foreign policy.

If we're going to go down the road of spreading democracy, then we need to go full bore... This includes a national boycott of goods coming from non-democratized nations (or at the very least increased tarriffs), and complete, unhindered free trade with democratized nations (on the road to a Libertarian utopia).

Always the conservative side? Not even close. Just a decade ago, Bill Clinton was leading us into the Balkans to help the Bosnians, and later the Kosovarians, achieve some level of independence from their Serbian masters in the name of self-determination. And before that, there was South Africa where blacks weren't allowed to vote or participate equally in society and before that there was a long list of dictatorial governments that the conservatives supported (usually for their stance against communism) and the dems opposed. Neither side is consistently on the side of democracy, but both sides have used that goal from time to time.

Here is a synopsis of a NYTimes article (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/bill_clinton/index.html?query=SURVEYS%20AND%20SERIES&field=des&match=exact) from 2000 reviewing Bill Clinton's efforts to spread democracy in China:

Last of five articles in series, The Clinton Legacy, focuses on Pres Clinton's view of America's role in world; Clinton, dealing with world no longer dominated by nuclear rivalries, has instituted signature change in American foreign policy; he has placed brand of economic diplomacy at core of his foreign policy; he argues that spread of American-style capitalism will eventually help spread American-style democracy; first evidence of this was his billions-of-dollars bailout of Mexico when that country faced economic implosion; Clinton aides note that Mexico has repaid loans, plus interest, and that reforms Clinton demanded from Mexico in exchange for money helped democracy flourish there; despite success in Mexico, Clinton's thesis is still unproven; his boldest experiments at using economic incentives to achieve democratic reforms have been in China and Russia; critics call them failures, but administration argues that verdict is still out; Clinton has learned that economic engagement has its limits, and that old trouble spots--Middle East, Iraq, Northern Ireland--will not go away, and remain immune to economic incentives; overall, foreign policy experts conclude that Clinton's foreign policy legacy has been shaped more in Treasury Dept than in State Dept.

Nightwish
05-11-2006, 11:17 PM
Always the conservative side? Not even close. Just a decade ago, Bill Clinton was leading us into the Balkans to help the Bosnians, and later the Kosovarians, achieve some level of independence from their Serbian masters in the name of self-determination. And before that, there was South Africa where blacks weren't allowed to vote or participate equally in society and before that there was a long list of dictatorial governments that the conservatives supported (usually for their stance against communism) and the dems opposed. Neither side is consistently on the side of democracy, but both sides have used that goal from time to time.I believe you missed his point. He wasn't saying that only conservatives seem interested in spreading Democracy into foreign lands. He was saying that there seems to be a double standard among many conservatives - supporting the use of tax dollars to engage in social programs abroad, while complaining about the evils of doing the same thing at home. It does seem a bit hypocritical to say that social programs abroad are all hunky dory, but don't dare spend our tax dollars to do it here.

BucEyedPea
05-11-2006, 11:26 PM
patteeu,
That's true about the Balkans but the Republicans were acting like isolationists when Clinton authorized all that.

patteeu
05-12-2006, 05:58 AM
I believe you missed his point. He wasn't saying that only conservatives seem interested in spreading Democracy into foreign lands. He was saying that there seems to be a double standard among many conservatives - supporting the use of tax dollars to engage in social programs abroad, while complaining about the evils of doing the same thing at home. It does seem a bit hypocritical to say that social programs abroad are all hunky dory, but don't dare spend our tax dollars to do it here.

Maybe he will clarify it for us then because I think that when he inserted the "it's always" into his first sentence it makes it quite clear that he's suggesting that "it's always" the conservatives (as opposed to some other group) who claim to want to spread democracy abroad. If his point had been what you think it was, why would he included those words?

patteeu
05-12-2006, 06:00 AM
patteeu,
That's true about the Balkans but the Republicans were acting like isolationists when Clinton authorized all that.

I know. That was my point. It isn't "always" the conservatives trying to spread democracy through intervention (or other foreign policy activity), sometimes it's the conservatives, and sometimes it's some other group (like Clinton in the Balkans).

Nightwish
05-12-2006, 09:24 PM
Maybe he will clarify it for us then because I think that when he inserted the "it's always" into his first sentence it makes it quite clear that he's suggesting that "it's always" the conservatives (as opposed to some other group) who claim to want to spread democracy abroad. If his point had been what you think it was, why would he included those words?You need to read the whole sentence to get his jist. You appear to have stopped at the comma. Here's the whole sentence (I've bolded the part you missed):

"What I don't understand is why it's always the conservative side who are such bleeding hearts for speading democracy, but ask them about helping people at home, and they freak out about it, complaining about how their tax dollars are being spent."

Mohammed
05-12-2006, 09:35 PM
You may begin to spread democracy as soon as I am done spreading theocracy.

'Hamas' Jenkins
05-13-2006, 11:22 PM
Is our own "democracy" spoiled somehow because of the presence of French troops during our revolution?

'Hamas' didn't say anything about imposing democracy. If that's what he's talking about, I'd have to agree that you can't impose democracy on people who don't want it. OTOH, I see no reason why people who do want democracy can't be liberated from an oppressor who stands in their way. We liberated France during WWII and they re-established a democracy.

Isn't that the clear implication of this thread title?? How could any sane person say that we aren't imposing democracy on Iraq? Of course we are 'spreading' democracy rather than returning previously democratic places to democracy or enabling democratic movements to burgeon.

patteeu
05-14-2006, 07:12 AM
You need to read the whole sentence to get his jist. You appear to have stopped at the comma. Here's the whole sentence (I've bolded the part you missed):

"What I don't understand is why it's always the conservative side who are such bleeding hearts for speading democracy, but ask them about helping people at home, and they freak out about it, complaining about how their tax dollars are being spent."

No, I didn't miss anything. IMO the two parts of that sentence are independent of one another (other than the obvious fact that you need the first part to know who "them," "they," and "their" are in the second part). The "always" OTOH, has to be completely ignored for your interpretation to be right. Why does it not surprise me that you're on the nonstandard-English side of an interpretation argument again?

patteeu
05-14-2006, 07:14 AM
Isn't that the clear implication of this thread title??

No.

Nightwish
05-14-2006, 11:28 AM
No, I didn't miss anything. IMO the two parts of that sentence are independent of one another (other than the obvious fact that you need the first part to know who "them," "they," and "their" are in the second part). The "always" OTOH, has to be completely ignored for your interpretation to be right. Why does it not surprise me that you're on the nonstandard-English side of an interpretation argument again?
When "always" is used as an obvious figure of speech for the purpose of emphasis, then it isn't supposed to be taken as a literal synonym for "only." C'mon, patteeu, I'd expect a standard word-for-word transliteration of each term in the sentence from a non-native speaker who isn't familiar with the loose construction of everyday English and therefore doesn't know any better, but you're a native speaker, I presume, and you're smarter than that.