ACCUMULATING PERIPHERALS


Albright holds high liberal internationalism’s torn and bullet-scarred banner by mattsteinglass
June 12, 2007, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Matthew Yglesias is at a Center for American Progress conference where he says Madeleine Albright just made a case for more substantial US backing for elections in the Arab world. He wonders: how? Use US aid to Egypt as a lever to demand freer and fairer elections? Seems to  me there are two lenses through which one has to consider such moves. The first is pragmatic: can US pressure actually lead to elections in other countries? I don’t see much evidence for that. There are many ways through which authoritarian countries come to have free elections, but bowing to US (or any outside) pressure doesn’t tend to be one of them. The second, however, is more performative: is it important for the US to stand as an example of support for democracy? There, I think the answer is yes, it is important. Countries tend to end up having free elections as part of a long and convoluted process of mainly internal developments resulting in a breakdown of the old order, but when that breakdown comes along, it is important for them to look to the outside and see the US and other democracies as models worthy of emulation. Also, to a great degree, the animus directed against the US these days is based on a rather well-grounded resentment of American hypocrisy.

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