Mugged By Realism

Another blogger rethinks the notion of democracy promotion in foreign policy:

In all seriousness, I used to be very sympathetic with this foreign policy vision. But no more. I’m tired of hearing about Woodrow Wilson’s idealism, and I’m really tired of hearing about Harry Truman. Frankly, Democrats - and America more generally - would be better off abandoning idealistic democracy promotion as a foreign policy goal altogether. That’s not so much because the abstract idea is bad, it’s that attempting to implement it causes more harm than good in the real world.

…The bigger picture here is that the values we hold dear would be better promoted by recognizing the sovereignty and legitimacy of existing regimes for foreign policy purposes and then working from there. This isn’t necessarily a hard-and-fast rule to be universally applied, more like a strong presumption. For instance, we shouldn’t recognize a corrupt regime the day after a coup d’etat of a legitimate government. But in general, we should recognize those with power and work within that framework to promote our values. Sometimes this is a tough pill to swallow, but such is life.