Terry Jeffrey
Events unfolding in the Middle East are proving that Henry Hyde was right and George Bush was wrong on the wisdom of a foreign policy focused on promoting democracy.

When Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared in Hyde's House International Relations Committee on Feb. 16, 2006, she presented written testimony touting Bush's messianic policy.

"In his second inaugural address, President Bush laid out the vision that leads America into the world: 'It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world,'" said Rice.

She pointed to Iraq and Afghanistan as evidence that Bush's policy had sewn the seeds that would make freedom blossom across the Middle East.

"In December, over 12 million Iraqi people voted in free elections for a democratic government based on a constitution that Iraqis themselves wrote and adopted," said Rice.

"Today, Afghanistan has a democratic constitution; an emerging free economy; and a growing, multi-ethnic army that is the pride of the Afghan people," she said.

"The people of Iraq and Afghanistan," she concluded, "are helping to lead the transformation of the Broader Middle East from despotism to democracy."

Hyde, who chaired the committee, calmly poured cold water on this.

"It is a truism that power breeds arrogance," he said. "A far greater danger, however, stems from the self-delusion that is the more certain companion."

"To illustrate my point," Hyde said, "let me focus on a school of thought that has gained increasing prominence in our national debate -- namely, the assertion that our interests are best advanced by assigning a central place in the foreign policy of our nation to the worldwide promotion of democracy. I call this the Golden Theory."

Hyde, who had commanded a landing craft when U.S. forces re-entered the Philippines in World War II, and who had been a key member of both the intelligence and international relations committees at the height of the Cold War, spoke with deep experience on national security issues. His rebuttal of the Golden Theory was devastating.

It was wrong, Hyde said, to liken efforts to implant democracy today in problematic regions of the globe with what happened in Europe and parts of East Asia after World War II.

Even in Europe, he said, the U.S. needed to invest "enormous resources toward enforcing order, removing barriers, reviving economies and a host of other unprecedented innovations.

"The resulting transformation is usually ascribed to the workings of democracy," he said, "but it is due far more to the impact of the long-term U.S. presence."

Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

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