West faces ‘new Cold War’ with democracy under threat?


At the moment, the West is clearly losing the ideological battle for democracy, as two major anti-Western threats have emerged, George Mason University professor Jack A. Goldstone writes for World Politics Review:

  • One is radical Islamists from extremist groups like the Islamic State, who are seeking to create a self-declared anti-Western, anti-liberal “caliphate” across much of North Africa and the Middle East, with aspirations spreading to parts of Asia. To do so, they are engaging in terrorist attacks on U.S. and European soil, as well as attacks and military campaigns in Nigeria, Libya, Turkey, Yemen, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Thailand, the Philippines and elsewhere. …..
  • Even more threatening to the West, though, is the confidence of autocratic rulers that they can confine civil society and banish democracy. In Turkey, Russia, China, Egypt, much of Central Asia and much of Africa—such as Zimbabwe, Uganda, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Rwanda—rulers see elections as something to be manipulated to affirm their right to power, not as a means to give their citizens sovereignty and accountability. Checks on executive power, impartial judiciaries, free elections and universal human rights are seen by rulers in these countries as part of a Western conspiracy to sow discord by fomenting demands that will undermine the stability of their societies and their regions.


The West needs to realize that it has slept for decades, assuming that the events of 1989-1991 ended the need to fight to preserve liberty and democracy around the world, adds Goldstone, a member of the advisory committee to the National Endowment for Democracy’s Penn Kemble Forum:

The West needs to realize that a new Cold War has begun, and that freedom must again be vigorously defended. That means demonstrating once more that within Western societies, liberty and the rule of law will bring great hope and prosperity to ordinary citizens—a promise that has been failing in recent years. That means striving to win international debates and challenge the discourse that disdains democracy and privileges national security. Above all else, it means fully recognizing that the pursuit of wealth and a hail of drone attacks will not make the world safe for democracy. The second Cold War will need to be fought as conscientiously, on as many fronts, and as vigorously as the first one if the world is to again move toward universal respect for democracy and human rights.


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