In the Ukraine, Democracy Promotion Done Right

Promoting democracy in authoritarian regimes is now a central goal of US foreign policy. Yet Iraq, the test case, is not going well. Which is not a reason to abandon hope – democracy can be nurtured in even the most difficult places. First in Georgia, and now the Ukraine, Europe is demonstrating democracy promotion done right. “This young century will be liberty’s century. By promoting liberty abroad, we will build a safer world.” – US President George W. Bush Something quite unusual happened when, following the November 2003 uprising known as the “Rose Revolution,” Georgia’s new president ascended the steps of parliament to deliver his inaugural address. He raised the European flag, twelve stars on a blue field, above his country’s parliament, declaring, “This, too, is the Georgian flag.” It is a rare thing indeed when a liberated country raises any flag but its own. But this was not the first time that European ideals had inspired a movement for democracy. Nor would it be the last. In the mid-1990s, Slovakia was drifting towards authoritarianism. President Vladimir Meciar had allied with the quasi-fascist Slovak National Party and passed laws weakening the power of parliament and the constitutional court. He then turned the secret service on opponents in the media, labor unions, and local government. The European Union (EU) responded by announcing that Slovakia was the only one of the ten Eastern European applicants that was failing to meet the political criteria to join the union. With their European dream slipping away, Slovakia’s divided opposition rallied together. The 70 percent of Slovaks that favored EU membership lent genuine popular support....