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Dissing Democracy

As Daniel Henninger wrote last week in the Wall Street Journal, "The anti-Bush, anti-neocon obsession has been so constant, so often pegged to the broader Bush 'dream' for democracy and freedom, that its critics have tossed out the world's democratic … Read More

By / October 8, 2007

As Daniel Henninger wrote last week in the Wall Street Journal, "The anti-Bush, anti-neocon obsession has been so constant, so often pegged to the broader Bush 'dream' for democracy and freedom, that its critics have tossed out the world's democratic babies with the Iraqi and Afghan bathwater." Roger Cohen echoed a similar theme: that anyone who favored the Iraq War, continues to believe it was the right course of action to take, and persists in the goal of democracy promotion will inevitably be slandered as a "neocon." He wrote that this sort of reasoning

…makes Vaclav Havel and Adam Michnik and Kanan Makiya and Bernard Kouchner neocons, among others who don’t think like Norman Podhoretz but have more firsthand knowledge of totalitarian hell than countless slick purveyors of the neocon insult.

For an example of this bizarre type of thinking, head on over to the blog of the New American Foundation's Steve Clemons, (last seen engaging in bizarre fantasies of "Purging the Neocons from the American Soul" and praising all-around clown Joe Wilson), where Sameer Lalwani writes of the thwarted democratic uprising in Burma:

Despite the much ballyhooed cedar, rose, and orange revolutions that turned out to be far more complex power struggles rather than purely democratic revolutions, there appears to be something qualitatively different about what is happening in Myanmar right now — a much more organic galvanization of the population — though I think we lack sufficient information to substantiate it.

The sneer here directed towards the Lebanese, Georgians and Ukranians–who took to the streets to demand democratic reforms, many risking their lives to do so–is simply breathtaking, especially coming from someone sitting in a cubicle at a Washington, D.C. think tank. Writing these events off as "far more complex power struggles rather than purely democratic revolutions," Lalwani thinks he's undermining the nefarious neocon project of global democracy promotion when really all he's doing is casting aspersions on masses of people with far more courage than he, pegging them down from democracy activists fighting authoritarianism to the status of urban ward heelers.

He then expresses skepticism at whether or not the events in Burma last week constituted a "purely democratic revolution" because "we lack sufficient information to substantiate it." It's no doubt the case that information out of Burma has been spotty (due to the ruling junta's running the country like a giant prison cell, shutting off the country's internet access last Friday) but there has been no shortage of news confirming the reality of the situation in Burma, if Lalwani is even paying attention. We already have reports that thousands of monks and other protesters are "missing." Over 100 monks (and potentially many more) were slaughtered, their bodies tossed into the jungle. Tens of thousands of people protested in Rangoon's streets last week with very clear and simple demands: democratic reforms, the release of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, et. al. How is this not a genuine "democratic revolution?" Because those dreaded neocons supported it? One of the commenters conspiratorially writes:

Just to note the "Democratic Voice of Burma" is financed by the NED [the National Endowment for Democracy] – a U.S. operation like Al-Hurra. So take their accounts with some salt.

Yes, the NED, that dreaded locus of evil. In actual fact, the Democratic Voice of Burma (no scare-quotes needed), is staffed by Burmese exiles in Norway and actually gets money from George Soros. Does his mighty imprimatur negate the suspicion?

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