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But elections alone are not enough. Effective democracies honor and uphold basic human rights, including freedom of religion, conscience, speech, assembly, association, and press. They are responsive to their citizens, submitting to the will of the people." Taking into account the perspective given by these statements, the regime in Iraq was inconsistent to either of the elements pointed out, therefore it was a potential sheeted for terrorism. In the light of the American experience however, there are more and more opinions arguing that such a precedent would open the way for new similar interventions in areas considered to be dangerous for the survival of democracy.
This messianic mission is however not new for the American foreign policy. The Cold War and particularly the Reagan Administration are relevant examples in this sense. The period following the end of the Second World War can rightfully be described as an era of direct and indirect confrontation between two antagonistic forces. The U.S.S.R. was in this sense labeled as the empire of evil and was treated likewise. The major confrontation between the two sides was, most importantly, an ideological one similar to what today is labeled as the war on terror. The experience of the Cold War proved that war can be waged even against an idea and not necessarily a physical enemy. It is widely known the fact that the U.S. And the U.S.S.R. had never declared war on each other, nor did they use the phrase of "cold war" in their diplomatic and official relations. The entire confrontation was in fact an invisible one. By comparison, the war on terror the U.S. And other democratic countries are engaged in cannot visibly identify its enemy. Terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda are not state actors, as the period preceding the Cold War had considered to be traditional enemies. They represent a general, yet identifiable threat.
The new security strategy and the direction of the politics of the Bush Administration have tried to identify and fight precisely this threat. In this sense, the threat is represented by "a host of other groups and individuals (who) use terror and violence against innocent civilians to pursue their political objectives," "exploit Islam to serve a violent political vision (...), seek to expel Western power and influence from the Muslim world and establish regimes that rule according to a violent and intolerant distortion of Islam (...); ultimately, the terrorist enemy we face threatens global peace, international security and prosperity, the rising tide of democracy, and the right of all people to live without fear of indiscriminate violence." Although a generic description, this consideration of the current threat facing the world is the justification for the American strategy of intervening whenever democracies are threatened.
Taking all these issues into consideration, it can be said that the new direction of the United States' foreign policy and its idealistic perspective is similar to the one advocated during the Cold War. The protection of democracies all over the world with the aim of securing a world free of tyranny and insecurity are similar to the precepts that motivated its foreign policy during the Cold War. However, the reasons that led to this approach, as well as the means used to follow this direction are distinct. This comes to prove on the one hand that history cannot be repeated but, at the same time, that doctrines, ideals, and moral values can always be used as justification.
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The White House. (2006). National Strategy for Combating Terrorism. Today's Terrorist Enemy. National Security Council. 10 Feb. 2008 http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nsct/2006/sectionIII.html
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The White House. National Strategy for Combating Terrorism. Today's Terrorist Enemy. National Security Council. (September 2006).[continue]
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