Pres. George W. Bush, right on target in his talk to Russia, said in the context of the former USSR's controlled states in the Baltics: "All free and successful countries have some common characteristics--freedom of worship, freedom of the press, economic liberty, the rule of law, and the limitation of power through checks and balances." These traits are the essence of democracy.
Democracies, as a pervasive rule, do not start wars and, as a natural consequence, democracies never have war with each other. This is the concept behind the attempts to spread democracy. We know this intuitively. Rudolf Rummel of the University of Hawaii established it empirically 30 years ago in his work on the "Dimensionality of Nations" project, a work that Pres. Bush probably has not seen yet. If we want peace, spread democracy.
Democracy is both a by-product of economic success and a prerequisite of it--they go hand in hand. Democracy expanded greatly during Bill Clinton's presidency, notably in Latin America, mainly because economies grew rapidly and demanded an educated populace. Educated citizens travel, communicate more, demand more--including participation in politics and the agendas set by governments.
This deep-set democratic growth is hard to retract. Once educated, it is difficult to transform a population back to ignorance. Once they can communicate, it is impossible to get them to stop using cell phones or the Internet or TV. Democracies are built from the inside out. They cannot be imposed on an unwilling culture, nor can they be withdrawn. Pres. Bush has not learned either of these lessons. Because of this, he looks hypocritical from the European perspective. While he is impelling Iraqis toward one form of democracy, he is attempting to backtrack on the concept in the U.S. He will fail on both counts--certainly in his own homeland.
"Freedom of worship" always has included the freedom not to worship as well as to choose among the many varieties of established religions. As Samuel Huntington points out in Who Are We?, the U.S. is an Anglo-Protestant culture but not an English and Protestant people. We cannot be put back in that bottle. Bush, though, is trying. From its positions on stem-cell research to its support of public monies for religious private schools to the evangelical atmosphere that has been created at the Air Force Academy, the Bush Administration is pushing an agenda in which religious diversity and freedom to hold divergent beliefs...