I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized Liberal, but to a Degree

Liberal, but to a Degree

Ultán Gillen
Bourgeois Liberty and the Politics of Fear: From Absolutism to Neo-Conservatism, by Marc Mulholland, Oxford University Press, 416 pp, £37, ISBN: 978-0199653577 In Washington on November 6th, 2003, George W Bush addressed the twentieth anniversary celebrations of the National Endowment for Democracy, an organisation established at the behest of President Ronald Reagan as a weapon in the ideological battle against the Soviet Union. Reagan’s successor as president of the most powerful country the world has ever seen, a country that had achieved total victory in the Cold War with its socialist economic, political and military rival, was in a celebratory mood. As Bush surveyed recent history and the world around him, he sounded an unashamedly triumphant note, looking forward to the continuing success of America’s historic mission, “to promote liberty around the world”. We’ve witnessed, in little over a generation, the swiftest advance of freedom in the two-thousand-five-hundred-year story of democracy. Historians in the future will offer their own explanations for why this happened. Yet we already know some of the reasons they will cite. It is no accident that the rise of so many democracies took place in a time when the world’s most influential nation was itself a democracy. In the early 1970s, President Bush said, there were forty democracies in the world; by the end of the century, around a hundred and twenty. “I can assure you more are on the way.” He made clear that he was referring not just to the Middle East, namechecking regimes in Africa, the Caribbean and Asia that could not “hold back freedom forever”. The Middle East, he told his audience, must be a focus for American foreign policy for decades to come, with America aiding a slow process of change that would bring democracy to countries like Bahrain, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe ‑ because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty … Therefore, the United States has adopted a new policy, a forward strategy of freedom in the Middle East. This strategy requires the same persistence and energy and idealism we have shown before. And it will yield the same results. As in Europe, as in Asia, as in every region of the world, the advance of freedom leads to peace. What…

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