There’s so much to find offensive about Fareed Zakaria’s article in this week’s Newsweek that it’s tough to know where to begin. Put simply, the piece stated rather strongly that President Bush is responsible for a declining rate of democracy around the world.
Of course, one study that Zakaria cited to prove this premise “points out that 2006 was a bad year for liberty, under attack from creeping authoritarianism in Venezuela and Russia, a coup in Thailand, massive corruption in Africa and a host of more subtle reversals.”
Zakaria never addressed what President Bush did to advance creeping authoritarianism in Venezuela and Russia, the coup in Thailand, and the massive corruption in Africa. Instead, he reported the following (emphasis mine throughout):
What explains this paradox—of freedom's retreat, even with a U.S. administration vociferous in promoting democracy? Some part of the explanation lies in the global antipathy to the U.S. president. "We have all been hurt by the association with the Bush administration," Saad Eddin Ibrahim, the Egyptian activist, told me last month. "Bush's arrogance has turned people off the idea of democracy," says Larry Diamond, co-editor of the Journal of Democracy.
Isn’t that special? Of course, no article critical of the Administration would be complete without bringing up Iraq:
The administration has constantly argued that Iraq has witnessed amazing political progress over the last four years only to be undermined by violence. In fact, Iraq has seen its politics and institutions fall apart since the American invasion. Its state was dismantled, its economy disrupted, its social order overturned and its civic institutions and community corroded by sectarianism. Its three communities were never brought together to hammer out a basic deal on how they could live together. The only things that did take place in Iraq were elections (and the writing of a Constitution that is widely ignored). Those elections had wondrous aspects, but they also divided the country into three communities and hardened these splits. To describe the last four years as a period of political progress requires a strange definition of political development.
Mysteriously, as Zakaria complained about Iraq’s economy, he totally ignored a Newsweek article from just a month ago addressing how that nation’s economy is booming.
Furthermore, why is it that folks like Zakaria forget how long it took the United States to have a fully functioning government following the signing of the Declaration of Independence? Or, as he mentioned the problems in Russia, given that it is now almost seventeen years since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, how are the former republics of the USSR doing in their move towards democracy?
In fact, as it pertains to Russia, Vladimir Putin became acting president there on December 31, 1999, and was first elected in May 2000. Should the creeping authoritarianism in that nation therefore be blamed on Clinton who was president at the time?
Alas, an impatient media have forgotten how long democracies take to be fully functional. A good student of history like Zakaria should be aware of this, and should not be advancing the drivel dominating this article.