Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Promoting Democracy and Fighting Terror

Thomas Carothers has a lengthy piece in the current issue of Foreign Affairs entitled, "Promoting Democracy and Fighting Terror." It is, needless to say, an especially complicated subject now; it was complicated enough in the 1980’s from the Phillipines to Hungary when I was indirectly involved in such matters. Practical issues aside (which are very difficult) even theoretically it was vague. I was promoting natural rights via constitutionalism and almost everybody else was promoting majority rule. You see the problem. I remember having an especially interesting conversation with a bunch young PhD’s in Hungary; all well educated in Locke, Federalist Papers, etc., and yet they were arguing about what rights Hungarians had as Hungarians and once the people ruled there the first they should do is to go to war with Romania to assert the rights of Hungarians. Now that was a six-slivovitz conversation! The problem of what the right end is (i.e., what promoting "democracy" really means) is huge and even if that is rightly answered the practical problems remain: what to do when in particular circumstances. Carothers is trying to be even-handed and it is written in that relatively easy to read Foreign Affairs style. Three coffee read.

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