Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I Don't Get It

William Kristol says it again here, and it's a statement that deserves some scrutiny.
(Kristol also says that all the problems in the world are the fault of the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, sorting of glossing over that the reason for the Islamists' popularity was the American-backed coup of the democratically-elected Iranian government of the early 1950s and the installation and American support of the Shah's 25 years of brutal dictitorial repression. When Bush rambles on about how a democratic Arab nation will change the Middle East, remember that there was one 50 years ago until the West overthrew it. But I digress.)
While talking about the current war in Lebanon, Kristol says, "Better to say that what's under attack is liberal democratic civilization, whose leading representative right now happens to be the United States."
I don't get it. How do you quantify the statement that the US is the leading representative of democracy? They're sure doing a good job -- Be Nice To America or They'll Bring Democracy to Your Country!
What about that other chestnut that America is the "freest nation on earth." Again, how is this determined? Does Time publish some sort of "freedom index"? Is it determined by a straw poll of Fox News correspondents? Don Rumsfeld's tea leaves? Or by reading the pattern of buckshot left in Dick Cheney's hunting victims, er, partners?
It is a strikingly American perception that somehow the USA is rightfully the leader of the democratic world. Only in the US is the President often referred to as "The Leader of the Free World," and it is done as if it was the obvious natural order of things.
I don't recall when this was decided. Did I miss a meeting? Was I on vacation that week? If we're in the free world, and the free world has a leader, shouldn't there be a vote or something like that on who leads us?
I know I didn't vote for him.

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