Bringing Democracy

I heard on the radio this morning about the Afghan peoples’ disappointment that the United States failed to deliver on its promise to bring democracy to Afghanistan and I wonder whether any outside entity has ever successfully brought democracy to any nation.  I may be out of my depth here; I am not a history scholar, but any lasting efforts to fundamentally change the political structure of a nation appear to have carried through by the people themselves.  Americans have always kept the flame alive, overtly and covertly, but Solidarity had deep Polish roots, the Germans dismantled the Berlin Wall , Gorbachev oversaw the breakup of the USSR.  Can democracy be exported?  It can be funded, encouraged, and nurtured, but I think the idea of exporting a successful turnkey government (even if it appears to be handcrafted a la Karzai) is preposterous and I thought that this failed conceit was the big lesson of Viet Nam.  I do think that the undermining the Taliban and rooting out Al Qaeda are noble causes that can save lives and personal freedoms, but I cannot comprehend how we can reverse centuries of skepticism about Western motives in Middle Eastern nations; President Obama may have a better shot at it than most, but I still think the parameters of the mission and the methods should be redrawn, and fast.

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