Sunday, April 01, 2007

There are more democracies than ever, but few of them seem to support democracy

These are really depressing times.

Hundreds of thousands are being slaughtered in Darfur but the world stands by, Russia slides into a dictatorship whilst the world gives Putin the red carpet treatment, Bush's dream of spreading democracy in the middle east lies in tatters whilst Iran gets ever closer to becoming a nuclear power.

But the saddest thing of all is that in so many of the worlds democracies, both the voters and politicians don't seem to know who the villains are. Take South Africa. In 1994, the world watched in admiration is it moved peacefully from apartheid to democracy. If South Africa could become a democracy people asked, why not the rest of the continent? Thirteen years later, it is still one of the few democracies in Africa, yet has consistently refused to criticise Mugabe's regime next door in Zimbabwe. This is despite the fact that its elections have been rigged, its economy has collapsed and life expectancy there has fallen to just 40.

Then there is South Korea. Despite the continuing threat from North Korea and the fact that America continues to defend its border, many voters there want improved relations with North Korea and look on America as the villains.

And then there's the European Union. It sits within easy range of Iran's missiles. Should Iran go nuclear, it sits right in the line of fire. Yet amongst Europe's intelligentsia and many of its politicians, America is seen as the aggressor, not Iran. Even when Iran carries out an act of war against one of their own members, they stand by and shrug their shoulders.

Critics of US foreign policy complain that America has a simplistic view of good vs evil. The problem with the critics is that they don't recognise evil, even when it stares them in the face.