The best role for critics in the President’s second term will be not to scoff at the idea of spreading freedom but to take it seriously – to hold him to his own talk. The hard question isn’t whether America should try to enlarge the democratic order but how. It’s a question that the Administration seems to have thought about very little, yet it makes a big difference. Look at the two examples from the week’s front pages: where the approach has been subtle and collective, the outcome seems hopeful; where it has been noisy and unilateralist, it does not.
That’s George Packer in the New Yorker, writing about the contrast between the budding democracies in Ukraine and Iraq. The thrust of his argument: “[T]he United States did in Ukraine exactly what it failed to do in Iraq: it upheld international standards in conjunction with democratic allies.”
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