Friday, 11 April 2008

Times: The flame of democracy fading

[...] Today China, with its vast store of US Treasury bonds has American prosperity in its grip. Russia, with its stranglehold on continental energy resources, can intimidate Europeans. That's why George Bush would never boycott the Beijing Olympics and why the Europeans, in a cringing genuflection to Russian “concerns”, recoiled energetically last week from proposals to expand Nato.

Meanwhile, the global struggle against Islamism weakens the resolve, resources and unity of the West, while Russia and China deflect jihadism's ambitions through useful accommodations with its practitioners in Iran, Syria and Palestine.

Above all, we in the democratic world, fattened by prosperity and complacent in the inevitability of the victory of our values, are more prone than ever to the corrosive luxury of self-questioning: the sort of domestic posturing that results in a mayor of London extolling the virtues of Fidel Castro or Hugo Chávez.

For liberalism to prevail it will not necessarily require open confrontation or military buildup, or even the empty gestures of Olympic boycotts. But it will require a good deal more willingness by the West to defend itself and its interests and to stand up for liberal democracy around the world rather more effectively and enthusiastically than of late.

We shouldn't forget that the outcomes of the struggles between liberal democracy and its enemies were no more predetermined in the 20th century - look at where we stood in 1940 or 1979 - than they are today. It was only thanks to the resilience of Western populations and brilliant statesmanship that our values triumphed then.

Who can be so confident, surveying the state of morale and leadership today, that such a triumph is inevitable in this century? Read more
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