History on the side of democracy_Stephens_Jan 20 2011

The electoral success of the palestinian hamas

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contortion, promoting human rights is somehow an act of oppression. The electoral success of the Palestinian Hamas movement has seen self-professed foreign policy realists caution that we must be careful what we wish for. Elections are fine as long as they produce the right answer. The Middle East may well produce the wrong one. In any event, there are geopolitical bargains and lucrative trade deals to be struck with repressive regimes. In the new age of realpolitik, David Cameron’s British government loudly applauds as the energy giant BP throws itself into the arms of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The European Union rolls out the red carpet for despots such as Uzbek president Islam Karimov.
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Events long ago exposed as vapid lofty post-cold war predictions of the irresistible march of democracy. The scholars who once imagined a world of shiny democracies have climbed on to other bandwagons. Now they see a challenge from a new, self-confident model of state capitalism. At least, you hear these pundits say, the autocrats get things done. Democracy has also been in retreat on the ground. Freedom House , the Washington-based think-tank that tracks the fortunes of political pluralism, calculates that global freedom suffered a “fifth consecutive year of decline in 2010”. The number of countries worthy of being designated “free” fell from 89 to 87, and the number of electoral democracies dropped to 115 – eight fewer than in 2005. You do not have to agree with Freedom House’s precise methodology to agree that the autocrats have had the upper hand.
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