The History of War for Democracy Joe Sobran amused me with this column:
Americans wanted no part of [WWI], until Woodrow Wilson decided that although war was bad, a “war to end all war” and “to make the world safe for democracy” would be okay. So the United States got a piece of the action and Germany was defeated. Wilson went to Europe to seal the victory and ensure democracy and self-determination for all nations, some of which had to be invented for the purpose. So the map of Europe was redrawn. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

But out of the rubble crawled new leaders like Hitler and Lenin, and the Versailles settlement didn’t hold. The new Europe soon became something nobody had imagined, and another world war, even worse than the first, was the result.

It started when Hitler’s Germany and Lenin’s Russia, now owned by Joe Stalin, invaded Poland. Right-thinking people declared war on Germany, but not on Russia, and when the shooting finally stopped, they awarded Poland to Stalin. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Franklin Roosevelt, Wilson’s disciple, thought the United States and Russia could jointly ensure a just and lasting peace. That peace lasted a few minutes. The United States faced a greater danger from a nuclear-armed Russia than it had ever faced from Germany (or Japan). ...

Today, partly as a result of the 1991 Gulf War, we are in another situation nobody could imagine a few years ago. As usual, our rulers think another war will produce the desired results, such as democracy all over the place.

Wherever they get this idea, it is not, shall we say, from an inductive study of history.
I've made the point a few times recently: good intentions are meaningless by comparison to good action. We can be as earnest as we possibly can be about the good of the Iraqi people, the evil of Saddam, the need for democracy in Iraq, or whatever. But wishing don't make it so. Some problems simply are not soluble; some outcomes are not possible. And most relevant, some outcomes are not possible via force.

Societies evolve peacefully in ways which they simply don't, during or via war. One of those peaceful evolution results is, sometimes, liberty. War never leads to more liberty. At best, it can leave liberty pretty much unchanged (as in one revolution I can think of), but that is the exception. Certainly, "democracy" is not worth fighting for; liberty is, but war cannot create it. That's a conundrum for the national greatness types, to the extent they really understand liberty. I don't think they do. They think that democracy is liberty. But they will have a devil of a time even installing democracy in Iraq.

Democracy can, I think, be installed in ethnically homogeneous countries; that is to say, nations. It does not work, and will not be installable, in Iraq.

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