messed up the url

Eugen Leitl eugen@leitl.org
Sun, 23 Mar 2003 17:25:24 +0100 (CET)


It's been brought to my attention that the URL from Dave's forward was
b0rken (he probably did it himself). Here's the correct one, with full
text attached (fair use be damned):

<http://www.cfr.org/publication.php?id=5357.xml>

Foreign Affairs Article

Promoting Democracy and Fighting Terror

Foreign Affairs ( January/February 2003 )

This article has been reproduced in its entirety with the permission of 
Foreign Affairs.

Split Personality

When George W. Bush took office two years ago, few observers expected that 
promoting democracy around the world would become a major issue in his 
presidency. During the 2000 presidential campaign Bush and his advisers 
had made it clear that they favored great-power realism over idealistic 
notions such as nation building or democracy promotion. And as expected, 
the incoming Bush team quickly busied itself with casting aside many 
policies closely associated with President Bill Clinton. Some analysts 
feared democracy promotion would also get the ax. But September 11 
fundamentally altered this picture. Whether, where, and how the United 
States should promote democracy around the world have become central 
questions in U.S. policy debates with regard to a host of countries 
including Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, 
Uzbekistan, and many others.

Although the war on terrorism has greatly raised the profile of democracy 
as a policy matter, it has hardly clarified the issue. The United States 
faces two contradictory imperatives: on the one hand, the fight against al 
Qaeda tempts Washington to put aside its democratic scruples and seek 
closer ties with autocracies throughout the Middle East and Asia. On the 
other hand, U.S. officials and policy experts have increasingly come to 
believe that it is precisely the lack of democracy in many of these 
countries that helps breed Islamic extremism.

Resolving this tension will be no easy task. So far, Bush and his foreign 
policy team have shown an incipient, albeit unsurprising, case of split 
personality: "Bush the realist" actively cultivates warm relations with 
"friendly tyrants" in many parts of the world, while "Bush the 
neo-Reaganite" makes ringing calls for a vigorous new democracy campaign 
in the Middle East. How the administration resolves this uncomfortable 
dualism is central not only to the future of the war on terrorism but also 
to the shape and character of Bush's foreign policy as a whole.

Friends in Low Places

It is on and around the front lines of the campaign against al Qaeda that 
the tensions between America's pressing new security concerns and its 
democracy interests are most strongly felt. The most glaring case is 
Pakistan. The cold shoulder that Washington turned toward General Pervez 
Musharraf after he seized power in 1999 has been replaced by a bear hug. 
In recognition of the Pakistani leader's critical supporting role in the 
war on terrorism, the Bush administration has showered Musharraf with 
praise and attention, waived various economic sanctions, assembled a 
handsome aid package that exceeded $600 million in 2002, and restarted 
U.S.-Pakistan military cooperation.

Bush officials insist that they combine their embrace with frequent 
private messages to Musharraf about the importance of returning to 
democracy. But during the past year the Pakistani president has steadily 
consolidated his authoritarian grip, a process punctuated by a clumsy 
referendum last spring and a sweeping series of antidemocratic 
constitutional amendments in the summer. Bush and his aides have reacted 
only halfheartedly to this process, publicly repeating tepid calls for 
democracy but exerting no real pressure.

This soft line is a mistake and should be revised, yet the complexities of 
the situation must also be acknowledged. Pakistan's cooperation in the 
campaign against al Qaeda is not a nice extra -- it is vital. In addition, 
a return to democracy in Pakistan is not simply a matter of getting an 
authoritarian leader to step aside. The two main civilian political 
parties have failed the country several times, and during the 1990s 
discredited themselves in many Pakistanis' eyes with patterns of 
corruption, ineffectiveness, and authoritarian behavior. Democratization 
will require a profound, multifaceted process of change in which 
Pakistan's military will have to not only give up formal leadership of the 
country but pull out of politics altogether. Meanwhile, the civilian 
politicians will have to remake themselves thoroughly and dedicate 
themselves to rebuilding public confidence in the political system. Rather 
than erring on the side of deference to Musharraf, Washington should 
articulate such a long-term vision for Pakistan and pressure all relevant 
actors there to work toward it.

Central Asia, meanwhile, presents a mosaic of dilemmas relating to the 
tradeoff between democracy and security in U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. 
need for military bases and other forms of security cooperation in the 
region has moved Washington much closer to the autocratic leaders of 
Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Even Saparmurat Niyazov, the 
totalitarian megalomaniac running Turkmenistan, received a friendly visit 
from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in April 2002. At the same time, 
U.S. officials are pushing for reform in the region, emphasizing to their 
local counterparts that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the 
region's states to obtain significant outside support for the full set of 
economic, political, and social reforms necessary to join the modern 
world.

Surprisingly, it is in Uzbekistan, one of the region's harshest 
dictatorships, where this dual approach may pay at least modest dividends. 
President Islam Karimov has undoubtedly received a boost at home from the 
new diplomatic attention, economic aid, and military partnership with the 
United States. Yet for the first time since Uzbekistan became independent, 
U.S. officials are also meeting regularly with a wide range of Uzbek 
officials and conveying strongly worded messages about the need for 
change. And there are signs of nascent political and economic reforms, 
albeit small, tentative ones. Karimov is still very much a dictator with 
little understanding of or interest in either democracy or market 
economics. But he also seems to realize that some positive moves are 
necessary to ensure his own political future and that the increased 
external support post-September 11 is a real opportunity.

Unfortunately, in Kazakhstan the U.S. approach appears less promising. 
President Nursultan Nazarbayev displays no interest in meeting the United 
States even partway. Instead, he is using the new context to tighten his 
dictatorial hold on the country and is openly spurning U.S. reform 
efforts. Given Kazakhstan's sizable oil and gas reserves, and Nazarbayev's 
cooperation on both security and economic measures, he appears to have 
calculated correctly that the Bush administration is unlikely to step up 
its mild pressure for reform. If the United States is serious about trying 
to steer Kazakhstan away from potentially disastrous authoritarian decay, 
however, Washington will have to become more forceful.

Kyrgyzstan is a more ambiguous but still discouraging case. President 
Askar Akayev is less dictatorial than Karimov or Nazarbayev but has also 
slid toward authoritarianism in recent years. The Bush administration has 
made some effort to steer him away from this unfortunate path. But it has 
not taken full advantage of the Kyrgyz elite's obvious eagerness for a 
close security relationship with the United States to push hard on key 
issues such as freeing political prisoners or curbing corruption.

Running throughout all of the new U.S. security relationships in South and 
Central Asia is an institutional divide that weakens the administration's 
ability to balance security and democracy. The State Department has shown 
some real commitment to raising human rights and democracy issues with 
these countries. The Pentagon, on the other hand, often focuses more on 
the immediate goal of securing military access or cooperation and less on 
the politics of the relevant host government. Given the importance that 
foreign leaders place on the U.S. military, they may sometimes assume that 
friendly words from the Pentagon mean they can ignore other messages they 
are receiving. Ensuring a consistent U.S. front on democracy and human 
rights, therefore, is a prerequisite for a coherent approach.

Afghanistan is perhaps the most telling example of this challenge. The 
initial post-September 11 action by the United States in that country was 
of course not a downgrading of democracy concerns but a sudden step 
forward, through the ouster of the fundamentalist Taliban regime. But the 
conduct of U.S. military operations there has since undermined the 
administration's promises of a lasting, deep commitment to democratic 
reconstruction. The Pentagon initially relied on Afghan warlords as proxy 
fighters against al Qaeda, arming them and thus helping them consolidate 
their regional power. This assistance helped entrench the centrifugal 
politics that threaten Afghanistan's weak new government. Ironically, the 
strategy seems also to have been a partial military miscalculation, 
leading to the escape of a significant number of al Qaeda fighters at Tora 
Bora.

At the same time, administration opposition to the use of either U.S. or 
un peacekeeping troops outside of Kabul, and significant shortfalls in the 
delivery of promised aid, make it impossible for the Karzai government to 
guarantee security, gain meaningful control beyond the capital, or achieve 
legitimacy by delivering peace to its citizens. Ethnic rivalries, the 
opium trade, and newly empowered local strongmen make a return to state 
failure and civil war a very real possibility. Despite the insistence of 
many U.S. officials in the immediate aftermath of September 11 on the 
connection between failed states and vital U.S. security interests, the 
Bush team's aversion to nation building has not really changed.

No easy solutions to Afghanistan's profound political problems are in 
sight. At a minimum, however, the administration must strengthen its 
commitment to making reconstruction work. This means not only delivering 
more fully on aid, but exerting real pressure on regional power brokers to 
accept the Kabul government's authority and working harder to establish an 
Afghan national army. No matter how pressing are the other fronts of the 
war against al Qaeda (such as the increasingly worrisome situation in 
northern Pakistan), the United States must fulfill the responsibilities 
for reconstruction that came with its invasion of Afghanistan.

Ripple Effects

The tensions posed by the war on terrorism for U.S. support of democracy 
abroad have quickly spread out beyond the immediate front lines. Southeast 
Asia is one affected region. Indonesia has become an important theater in 
the U.S. antiterrorist campaign, because of U.S. fears that al Qaeda 
leaders are taking refuge there and that the country's numerous Islamist 
groups are connecting with extremist networks. The White House continues 
to support Indonesia's shaky, somewhat democratic government. But in a 
setback on human rights policy, the administration has proposed restarting 
aid to the Indonesian military. That aid was progressively reduced during 
the 1990s in response to the Indonesian forces' atrocious human rights 
record and was finally terminated in 1999, when Indonesian troops 
participated in massacres in East Timor. Administration officials have 
downplayed this decision to renew military aid, stressing that most of the 
proposed $50 million package is directed at the police rather than the 
military. But the willingness of the U.S. government to enter into a 
partnership with a security force that just a few years ago was involved 
in a horrendous campaign of slaughter and destruction against civilians 
sends a powerful negative message throughout the region and beyond. Some 
officials argue that the new training programs will give U.S. military 
personnel a chance to instruct their Indonesian counterparts in human 
rights. But U.S. officials repeatedly made the same argument in defense of 
these programs in previous decades, right up to when the Indonesian 
military committed the human rights abuses that sank the relationship.

Malaysia's leader, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, is another beneficiary 
of a changed U.S. foreign policy. Mahathir has made himself useful to 
Washington by arresting Islamic militants, sharing intelligence, and 
cooperating in other ways with an antiterrorist campaign that neatly 
dovetails with his authoritarian domestic agenda. And in response, 
Washington's previous critical stance toward the Malaysian leader -- 
highlighted in Vice President Al Gore's much-publicized call for reformasi 
during his visit to Kuala Lumpur in 1998 -- has been reversed. Top U.S. 
officials now laud Mahathir as "a force for regional stability" and "a 
model of economic development that has demonstrated tolerance," and 
President Bush praised him at an amicable joint press conference after 
Mahathir's visit to the White House in May 2002.

An emphasis on democracy and human rights is also in question in U.S. 
policy toward Russia and China. Russia's new role as a U.S. ally in the 
war on terrorism has progressed less smoothly than some initially hoped, 
with significant continuing differences over Iraq, Iran, Georgia, and 
other places. Nevertheless, President Bush regards President Vladimir 
Putin very favorably and has not pressed the Russian leader about his 
shortcomings on democracy and human rights, such as in Chechnya or with 
regard to maintaining a free press. Somewhat similarly, the Chinese 
government has been able to leverage the new security context to solidify 
a much friendlier U.S.-China relationship than seemed likely in the early 
months of 2001, when the Bush administration appeared to view China as 
threat number one.

In both cases, however, the change is more of degree than kind. Bush's 
surprisingly personal and warm embrace of Putin started before September 
11, with Bush getting "a sense of [Putin's] soul" during their meeting in 
Slovenia in June 2001. And at no time prior to September 11, whether under 
Bush or Clinton before him, was the Russian government subjected to any 
significant U.S. government criticism for Chechnya or any of its other 
democratic flaws. With respect to China, it is true that September 11 did 
block movement toward a new hard-line policy from Washington that some 
administration hawks may have wanted. But the current relatively positive 
state of relations, with mild U.S. pressure on human rights greatly 
outweighed by an ample, mutually beneficial economic relationship, is not 
especially different from the overall pattern of the past decade or more.

One can look even further afield and identify possible slippage in U.S. 
democracy policies resulting from the war on terrorism, such as 
insufficient attention to the growing crisis of democracy in South America 
or inadequate pressure on oil-rich Nigeria's flailing president, Olusegun 
Obasanjo, to turn around his increasingly poor governance of Africa's most 
populous nation. Ironically, and also sadly, however, the greatest source 
of negative ripple effects has come from the administration's pursuit of 
the war on terrorism at home. The heightened terrorist threat has 
inevitably put pressure on U.S. civil liberties. But the administration 
failed to strike the right balance early on, unnecessarily abridging or 
abusing rights through the large-scale detention of immigrants, closed 
deportation hearings, and the declaration of some U.S. citizens as "enemy 
combatants" with no right to counsel or even to contest the designation. 
The Justice Department's harsh approach sent a powerful negative signal 
around the world, emboldening governments as diverse as those of Belarus, 
Cuba, and India to curtail domestic liberties, supposedly in aid of their 
own struggles against terrorism. In the United States, an independent 
judiciary and powerful Congress ensure that the appropriate balance 
between security and rights is gradually being achieved. In many 
countries, however, the rule of law is weak and copycat restrictions on 
rights resound much more harmfully.

Reagan Reborn?

Whereas "Bush the realist" holds sway on most fronts in the war on 
terrorism, a neo-Reaganite Bush may be emerging in the Middle East. In the 
initial period after September 11, the administration turned to its 
traditional autocratic allies in the Arab world, especially Egypt and 
Saudi Arabia, for help against al Qaeda. This move did not sacrifice any 
U.S. commitment to democracy; for decades, the United States had already 
suppressed any such concerns in the region, valuing autocratic stability 
for the sake of various economic and security interests. Over the course 
of the last year, however, a growing chorus of voices within and around 
the administration has begun questioning the value of America's "friendly 
tyrants" in the Middle East. These individuals highlight the fact that 
whereas the autocratic allies once seemed to be effective bulwarks against 
Islamic extremism, the national origins of the September 11 attackers make 
clear that these nations are in fact breeders, and in the case of Saudi 
Arabia, financiers, of extremism. Invoking what they believe to be the 
true spirit of President Ronald Reagan's foreign policy, they call for a 
change toward promoting freedom in U.S. Middle East policy. The core idea 
of the new approach is to undercut the roots of Islamic extremism by 
getting serious about promoting democracy in the Arab world, not just in a 
slow, gradual way, but with fervor and force.

President Bush is clearly attracted by this idea. Last summer his 
declarations on the Middle East shifted noticeably in tone and content, 
setting out a vision of democratic change there. According to this vision, 
the United States will first promote democracy in the Palestinian 
territories by linking U.S. support for a Palestinian state with the 
achievement of new, more democratic Palestinian leadership. Second, the 
United States will effect regime change in Iraq and help transform that 
country into a democracy. The establishment of two successful models of 
Arab democracy will have a powerful demonstration effect, "inspiring 
reforms throughout the Muslim world," as Bush declared at the United 
Nations in September. As the policies toward Iraq and Palestine unfold, 
the administration may also step up pressure on recalcitrant autocratic 
allies and give greater support to those Arab states undertaking at least 
some political reforms, such as some of the smaller Persian Gulf states. 
The decision last August to postpone a possible aid increase to Egypt as a 
response to the Egyptian government's continued persecution of human 
rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim was a small step in this direction.

It is not yet clear how sharply Bush will shift U.S. Middle East policy 
toward promoting democracy. Certainly it is time to change the 
long-standing practice of reflexively relying on and actually bolstering 
autocracy in the Arab world. But the expansive vision of a sudden, 
U.S.-led democratization of the Middle East rests on questionable 
assumptions. To start with, the appealing idea that by toppling Saddam 
Hussein the United States can transform Iraq into a democratic model for 
the region is dangerously misleading. The United States can certainly oust 
the Iraqi leader and install a less repressive and more pro-Western 
regime. This would not be the same, however, as creating democracy in 
Iraq.

The experience of other countries where in recent decades the United 
States has forcibly removed dictatorial regimes -- Grenada, Panama, Haiti, 
and most recently Afghanistan -- indicates that post-invasion political 
life usually takes on the approximate character of the political life that 
existed in the country before the ousted regime came to power. After the 
1982 U.S. military intervention in Grenada, for example, that country was 
able to recover the tradition of moderate pluralism it had enjoyed before 
the 1979 takeover by Maurice Bishop and his gang. Haiti, after the 1994 
U.S. invasion, has unfortunately slipped back into many of the pathologies 
that marked its political life before the military junta took over in 
1991. Iraqi politics prior to Saddam Hussein were violent, divisive, and 
oppressive. And the underlying conditions in Iraq -- not just the lack of 
significant previous experience with pluralism but also sharp ethnic and 
religious differences and an oil-dependent economy -- will inevitably make 
democratization there very slow and difficult. Even under the most 
optimistic scenarios, the United States would have to commit itself to a 
massive, expensive, demanding, and long-lasting reconstruction effort. The 
administration's inadequate commitment to Afghanistan's reconstruction 
undercuts assurances by administration officials that they will stay the 
course in a post-Saddam Iraq.

Furthermore, the notion that regime change in Iraq, combined with 
democratic progress in the Palestinian territories, would produce domino 
democratization around the region is far-fetched. A U.S. invasion of Iraq 
would likely trigger a surge in the already prevalent anti-Americanism in 
the Middle East, strengthening the hand of hard-line Islamist groups and 
provoking many Arab governments to tighten their grip, rather than 
experiment more boldly with political liberalization. Throughout the 
region, the underlying economic, political, and social conditions are 
unfavorable for a wave of democratic breakthroughs. This does not mean the 
Arab world will never democratize. But it does mean that democracy will be 
decades in the making and entail a great deal of uncertainty, reversal, 
and turmoil. The United States can and should actively support such 
democratic change through an expanded, sharpened set of democracy aid 
programs and real pressure and support for reforms. But as experience in 
other parts of the world has repeatedly demonstrated, the future of the 
region will be determined primarily by its own inhabitants.

Aggressive democracy promotion in the Arab world is a new article of faith 
among neoconservatives inside and outside the administration. However, it 
combines both the strengths and the dangers typical of neo-Reaganite 
policy as applied to any region. Perhaps the most important strength is 
the high importance attached to the president's using his bully pulpit to 
articulate a democratic vision and to attach his personal prestige to the 
democracy-building endeavor.

But two dangers are also manifest. One is the instrumentalization of 
prodemocracy policies -- wrapping security goals in the language of 
democracy promotion and then confusing democracy promotion with the search 
for particular political outcomes that enhance those security goals. This 
was often a problem with the Reagan administration's attempts to spread 
democracy in the 1980s. To take just one example, for the presidential 
elections in El Salvador in 1984, the Reagan administration labored 
mightily to establish the technical structures necessary for a credible 
election. The administration then covertly funneled large amounts of money 
to the campaign of its preferred candidate, Jose Napole-n Duarte, to make 
sure he won the race. This same tension between democracy as an end versus 
a means has surfaced in the administration's press for democracy in the 
Palestinian territories. Bush has urged Palestinians to reform, especially 
through elections, yet at the same time administration officials have made 
clear that certain outcomes, such as the reelection of Yasir Arafat, are 
unacceptable to the United States. A postinvasion process of installing a 
new "democratic" regime in Iraq would likely exhibit similar 
contradictions between stated principle and political reality.

The administration demonstrated worrisome signs of the same tendency last 
April during the short-lived coup against Venezuela's problematic populist 
president, Hugo Ch⤡vez. Washington appeared willing or even eager to 
accept a coup against the leader of an oil-rich state who is despised by 
many in the U.S. government for his anti-American posturing and dubious 
economic and political policies. But given that it came in a region that 
has started to work together to oppose coups, and that other regional 
governments condemned Chavez's ouster, the administration's approach 
undermined the United States' credibility as a supporter of democracy. If 
democracy promotion is reduced to an instrumental strategy for producing 
political outcomes favorable to U.S. interests, the value and legitimacy 
of the concept will be lost.

The second danger is overestimating America's ability to export democracy. 
U.S. neoconservatives habitually overstate the effect of America's role in 
the global wave of democratic openings that occurred in the 1980s and 
early 1990s. For example, they often argue that the Reagan administration 
brought democracy to Latin America through its forceful anticommunism in 
the 1980s. Yet the most significant democratization that occurred in 
Argentina, Brazil, and various other parts of South America took place in 
the early 1980s, when Reagan was still trying to embrace the fading 
right-wing dictators that Jimmy Carter had shunned on human rights 
grounds. Excessive optimism about U.S. ability to remake the Middle East, 
a region far from ripe for a wave of democratization, is therefore a 
recipe for trouble -- especially given the administration's proven 
disinclination to commit itself deeply to the nation building that 
inevitably follows serious political disruption.

A Fine Balance

The clashing imperatives of the war on terrorism with respect to U.S. 
democracy promotion have led to a split presidential personality and 
contradictory policies -- decreasing interest in democracy in some 
countries and suddenly increasing interest in one region, the Middle East. 
The decreases are widespread and probably still multiplying, given the 
expanding character of the antiterrorism campaign. Yet they are not fatal 
to the overall role of the United States as a force for democracy in the 
world. Some of them are relatively minor modifications of policies that 
for years imperfectly fused already conflicting security and political 
concerns. And in at least some countries where it has decided warmer 
relations with autocrats are necessary, the Bush administration is trying 
to balance new security ties with proreform pressures.

More broadly, in many countries outside the direct ambit of the war on 
terrorism, the Bush administration is trying to bolster fledgling 
democratic governments and pressure nondemocratic leaders for change, as 
have the past several U.S. administrations. Sometimes diplomatic pressure 
is used, as with Belarus, Zimbabwe, and Burma. In other cases, Washington 
relies on less visible means such as economic and political support as 
well as extensive democracy aid programs, as with many countries in 
sub-Saharan Africa, southeastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Central 
America, and elsewhere. Quietly and steadily during the last 20 years, 
democracy promotion has become institutionalized in the U.S. foreign 
policy and foreign aid bureaucracies. Although not an automatically 
overriding priority, it is almost always one part of the foreign policy 
picture. Partly to address "the roots of terrorism," moreover, the 
administration has also proposed a very large new aid fund, the $5 billion 
Millennium Challenge Account. By signaling that good governance should be 
a core criterion for disbursing aid from this fund, President Bush has 
positioned it as a potentially major tool for bolstering democracies in 
the developing world.

Although the new tradeoffs prompted by the war on terrorism are 
unfortunate, and in some cases overdone, the fact that U.S. democracy 
concerns are limited by security needs is hardly a shocking new problem. 
Democracy promotion has indeed become gradually entrenched in U.S. policy, 
but both during and after the Cold War it has been limited and often 
greatly weakened by other U.S. interests. President Clinton made liberal 
use of pro-democracy rhetoric and did support democracy in many places, 
but throughout his presidency, U.S. security and economic interests -- 
whether in China, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, or 
various other countries -- frequently trumped an interest in democracy. 
The same was true in the George H.W. Bush administration and certainly 
also under Ronald Reagan, whose outspoken support for freedom in the 
communist world was accompanied by close U.S. relations with various 
authoritarian regimes useful to the United States, such as those led by 
Suharto in Indonesia, Mobutu Sese Seko in Zaire, the generals of Nigeria, 
and the Institutional Revolutionary Party of Mexico.

George W. Bush is thus scarcely the first U.S. president to evidence a 
split personality on democracy promotion. But the suddenness and 
prominence of his condition, as a result of the war on terrorism, makes it 
especially costly. It is simply hard for most Arabs, or many other people 
around the world, to take seriously the president's eloquent vision of a 
democratic Middle East when he or his top aides casually brush away the 
authoritarian maneuverings of Musharraf in Pakistan, offer warm words of 
support for Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan, or praise Mahathir in Malaysia. The 
war on terrorism has laid bare the deeper fault line that has lurked below 
the surface of George W. Bush's foreign policy from the day he took office 
-- the struggle between the realist philosophy of his father and the 
competing pull of neo-Reaganism.

There is no magic solution to this division, which is rooted in a 
decades-old struggle for the foreign policy soul of the Republican Party 
and will undoubtedly persist in various forms throughout this 
administration and beyond. For an effective democracy-promotion strategy, 
however, the Bush team must labor harder to limit the tradeoffs caused by 
the new security imperatives and also not go overboard with the grandiose 
idea of trying to unleash a democratic tsunami in the Middle East. This 
means, for example, engaging more deeply in Pakistan to urge military 
leaders and civilian politicians to work toward a common vision of 
democratic renovation, adding teeth to the reform messages being delivered 
to Central Asia's autocrats, ensuring that the Pentagon reinforces 
proreform messages to new U.S. security partners, not cutting Putin slack 
on his democratic deficits, going easy on the praise for newly friendly 
tyrants, more effectively balancing civil rights and security at home, and 
openly criticizing other governments that abuse the U.S. example. In the 
Middle East, it means developing a serious, well-funded effort to promote 
democracy that reflects the difficult political realities of the region 
but does not fall back on an underlying acceptance of only cosmetic 
changes. This will entail exerting sustained pressure on autocratic Arab 
allies to take concrete steps to open up political space and undertake 
real institutional reforms, bolstering democracy aid programs in the 
region, and finding ways to engage moderate Islamist groups and encourage 
Arab states to bring them into political reform processes.

Such an approach is defined by incremental gains, long-term commitment, 
and willingness to keep the post-September 11 security imperatives in 
perspective. As such it has neither the hard-edged appeal of old-style 
realism nor the tantalizing promise of the neoconservative visions. Yet in 
the long run it is the best way to ensure that the war on terrorism 
complements rather than contradicts worldwide democracy and that the 
strengthening of democracy abroad is a fundamental element of U.S. foreign 
policy in the years ahead.

Thomas Carothers directs the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the 
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.