A question regarding promotion of Democracy. During the Iraq reconstruction, the Iraqi people came together and wrote their own Constitution. Critics in this country soundly criticised that document because it didn’t establish freedom of religion, that is Islamic religious principles and separation of Church and State was not firmly established. In the recent National Security Strategy document released by the Administration the same curious thing occurred. In adjacent sections Mr Obama states that two primary objectives with regard to promoting human rights abroad include supporting democracy and women’s rights. These two ideas are in conflict.

The document states the importance of:

Recognizing the Legitimacy of All Peaceful Democratic Movements: America respects the right of all peaceful, law-abiding, and nonviolent voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them.


Supporting the Rights of Women and Girls: Women should have access to the same opportunities and be able to make the same choices as men.

It seems to me quite clear that one of the notions held throughout much of the world is that women should not have the same access to the same opportunities as men. And this is an idea expressed by peaceful, law-abiding, and non-violent voices in places around the world, one with which however we disagree. This is just the same as the criticisms rendered after a democratic government forms a Constitution which does not separate Church and State.

Here’s the thing, you can support the idea that people should be free and able to set up their communities and the laws and customs by which they are run. You can want people to have certain ways of governing themselves and modes of setting up those communities. You can’t have both.

Filed under: Foreign PolicyGovernmentMark O.

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!