Thursday, April 29, 2004

Democracy Is Hard

CSM is running a story about a shift in public opinion regarding democracy in Latin America. Disappointed by decades of poor performance from their major parties many Latin American voters are electing populist outsiders, who unfortunately are also struggling to bring improvement. Democracy is a difficult form of government. We've discussed this here before, but it bears repeating. It becomes particularly difficult if you lack stable civic institutions, a substantial economic middle class, and sound economic policies. Latin American nations suffer on all accounts. Their experience has not been so different from those of other fledgling democracies in Africa and South-east Asia. Even the former Soviet states, which are relatively better off in those regards, have struggled with democracy. This is the backdrop in which the US invasion of Iraq needs to be considered. The idea that we could simply remove Saddam Hussein and then Iraq would transform into a shining beacon of freedom and democracy in the Middle East was absurd from day 1. I think people in the US are slowly beginning to realize this.

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