Condoleezza Rice wants to bring democracy to the Middle East. Ms. Rice, an expert on what is now an obsolete subject, the Soviet Union, believes this can be done the way the United States brought democracy to Chile or Iran or Afghanistan - that is, by violently overthrowing governments.
Does democracy come from the full belly of a B-52 and the murderous aftermath of coups?
Apparently not. Virtually none of the countries that America's freedom-loving army of enlightenment has bombed and shot-up over the last sixty years is today a democracy.
One is reminded of the claims of Napoleonic France that it was spreading revolutionary principles by conquest. The conquest part was vigorously pursued, but the liberté, egalitié, et fraternité part left a little something to be desired.
Ms. Rice displays little understanding of the history of democracy or of the circumstances which make it possible. She is not alone in this. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's efforts on "democracy initiatives" displayed a similar lack of understanding, although it must be said in Ms. Albright's favor, she was less inclined than the ever-hysterical Ms. Rice to classify unprovoked attack by a great power as an initiative for democracy.
Democracy is simply a natural development of a healthy, growing society. Over the long term, it requires no revolution, no coup, and no sacred writ. It grows and blooms as automatically as flower seeds tossed in a good patch of earth, although it is a plant whose maturity is measured in human lifetimes rather than seasons.