Monday, January 19

Obama on democracy promotion

From the Washington Post:

Elections aren't democracy, as we understand it. They are one facet of a liberal order, as we understand it. And so in a lot of countries, you know, the first question is, if you go back to Roosevelt's four freedoms, the first question is freedom from want and freedom from fear.

If people aren't secure, if people are starving, then elections may or may not address those issues, but they are not a perfect overlay.

And, you know, issues like arbitrary arrest or corruption may or may not be addressed by an election. So I think what we need to be thinking about is, in various countries, and I use my father's home country of Kenya as an example, what we should be spending more time thinking about is, how can we provide them tools so that somebody doesn't get stopped on the street by a police officer and shaken down, or how do we create a system in which you don't have to pay a large bribe in order to get a job or get a phone installed?

And if we ignore those things, then oftentimes an election can just backfire or at least won't deliver for the people the kinds of -- it may raise expectations but not deliver what they're looking for. And, you know, so we will be working with -- you know, one of the things that I have pledged to do in foreign policy is to ramp up our State Department and restore some balance between the civilian and the military side, to -- and right now we have already begun conducting a thorough review of our various aid programs, our democracy programs, how do these all fit together and how do we view it through a lens that it is actually delivering a better life for people on the ground and less obsessed with form, more concerned with substance.

No comments: