If that’s right, then President Bush may have proclaimed a doctrine for the 21st century comparable to the Monroe Doctrine in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and to the Truman Doctrine during the Cold War. Only historians not yet born will be able to say for sure. Even that possibility, however, should earn Bush’s memorable sentence greater scrutiny than it has so far received. For it raises an issue that future administrations—whether those of Obama, McCain or their successors—are going to have to resolve: If the goal of the United States is to be “ending tyranny in our world”, then is encouraging “the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture” the best way to go about it?A few more excerpts from the piece:
The objective of ending tyranny, therefore, is as deeply rooted in American history as it is possible to imagine. President Bush, in a time of crisis for the future of democratization, followed Lincoln’s example in a much greater crisis for the future of the Union: He looked back for guidance to the Founders.
Spreading democracy suggests knowing the answer to how people should live their lives. Ending tyranny suggests freeing them to find their own answers. The Oxford philosopher Isaiah Berlin best explained this distinction half a century ago in his great essay “Two Concepts of Liberty.”
But was it ever likely that democracy would root itself in those parts of the world where people fear anarchy more than they do authority? Where the struggle to survive is a more urgent priority than securing the right to vote? Where the immense power of the United States gives rise to greater uneasiness than it does reassurance?