On a recent edition of Real Time with Bill Maher, the stand-up comedian turned political commentator interviewed a former intelligence officer who suggested that establishing or defending democracy in a foreign country was not worth the money or spilled blood of Americans. Maher, who delights in outraging others was, for once outraged himself when the intelligence officer included Israel in his list of countries we should not defend. As panelist Janeane Garafolo correctly observed, Maher nearly bit the fella’s head off.
The question here is an interesting one that should not be ignored. Is it the job of the United States of America to establish and defend democracies throughout the world? If our long standing alliance with Israel is based, as Maher suggested, on maintaining one of the few democracies in the region, then what is wrong with our presence in Iraq to (supposedly) establish democracy there?
History has shown us that isolationism is a dangerous foreign policy. Now that we live in a global economy with truly global communication, isolationism is not only dangerous, it is near impossible. Yet, the nagging question remains, is the spread of democracy the answer to world peace and prosperity and if it is, is it our job to do the spreading?
The jury is out for me on this one. I can tell you one thing. If the answer truly is that we are the defenders of “freedom” (whatever that is), then we need more consistency. How ’bout some freedom fighting in Darfur?