Monday, September 17, 2012

Two Versions of Democracy

One of the most regrettable yet enduring aspects of Cold War rhetoric in the United States has been the claim that the other side hides imperialist goals beneath siren calls for cooperation and compromise.

In reality, we’re dealing with two different definition of democracy: for Americans, democracy is all about about voting and competition, while compromise and cooperation are part of the socialist tradition.

Twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian leaders continue to call for dialogue and compromise in conflictual situations, such as the current crisis in Syria, while the United States, true to its own tradition, calls for military solutions.  (Competition is about winning...)

The latest example of this tendency is the dispute over a couple of small islands claimed by both Japan and China and which are rumored to sit on sigificant gas and oil deposits. While only a few weeks ago Japan was featured in an important Chinese trade show, suddenly, Chinese are rioting in the streets against their neighbor and the United States signs a new missile defense deal with Japan. Washington says it’s about protecting its ally from North Korea, but critics suggests that’s like claiming the European missile defense system is aimed at Iran, and not at Russia.

While the Syrian conflict could plausibly be attributed to a real desire for change from one family rule, the Japan/China island dispute hardly appears to warrant military escalation. One has to wonder whether gearing up for war on several fronts is all about the United States trying to save the cowboy capitalist system from a final crash, as Russia and China, with their respective versions of regulated state capitalism, indulge in a bit of schadenfreude.

No comments:

Post a Comment