George W. Bush is still courageously tackling strawmen:
The idea that Arab people are somehow content with oppression has been discredited forever.
This wouldn’t be quite so risible if there were evidence that anyone in the West in the last several decades had claimed that Arabs or any other people on earth were “content with oppression.” There is a huge difference between this and arguing that a nation with weak institutions and no tradition of representative government will face enormous difficulties in creating a stable, pluralistic democracy. Critics of Bush-era democracy promotion did argue that democratization will be destabilizing to the countries and regions where it occurs. That idea certainly hasn’t been discredited by events of the last decade. Another argument against promoting simple majoritarian democracy is that it is likely to empower illiberal majority governments and populist authoritarians, and it may lead to the persecution or expulsion of minority groups. That seems to be borne out by events. Other skeptics pointed out that newly democratic governments were likely to be more antagonistic to the U.S. and its policies than their predecessors, and that has so far proven true as well.
No one seriously questioned the assumption that all people desire to be protected against arbitrary government and its abuses and to have an accountable government under the rule law, but these are often the very things that U.S.-led democracy promotion does not and cannot create. Everyone may desire freedom, but the nations that “benefited” from the “freedom agenda” still do not have it, and in some cases are farther from having it than they were a decade ago. One of the objections to Bush’s “freedom agenda” in particular was that the U.S. had no business directing the political development of other nations. Another was that our government didn’t possess the competence to succeed in the effort. Most of the arguments against U.S.-led democracy promotion appear to have been vindicated after the failures of the last decade. As ever, Bush remains oblivious.
So why does Bush think it noteworthy than an idea that no one in the West today accepts and is absurd on its face has been discredited? This is typical of Bush’s speeches. He sets himself up in opposition to a view that no one holds, pretends that he is being some sort of a visionary for challenging these non-existent political forces, and all the while insults the intelligence of his audience.