Drezner on Bush and democracy promotion

No, George W. Bush, who isn’t convinced America can win the war on terror (and who happily coddles terrorists when it gets him votes in Florida) isn’t actually for democracy, either. Surprise!

Dan Drezner isn’t happy with the Bush Administration’s inconsistency on “democracy promotion” as illustrated by its total lack of interest in promoting democracy in Russia and Pakistan. (Its inconsistency on anti-terrorism is equally glaring, but that’s another topic.)

For liberal democrats, what to do in countries with illiberal majorities and little democratic experience is a hard problem: elections are fine things, but personal liberty and the rule of law are more fundamental, and without them elections risk being “one man, one vote, once” a la Zimbabwe.

Still, there’s really no serious argument that Russia can’t handle democracy; if the administration is saying that Putin’s re-establishment of dictatorship is merely an “internal matter” for Russia, it’s because Putin is thought to be a known quantity in fighting political Islam. (Given the way he’s been fighting the Chechens, calling him an opponent of “terrorism” would strain the language.)

So what we have is an administration combining unprincipled opportunism with very low levels of competence. (Did someone say “Mayberry Machiavellianism”?) It’s hard to see how the country could do worse.

Dan wonders where the neocons will go: my guess is that most of them will stick with the guy committed to redistributing income upward.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com