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62 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Power of Freedom
Natan Sharansky, a graduate of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, was the English translator for, and English instructor of, the great Russian physicist, Andre Sakharov. The book is dedicated to Sakharov, "A man who proved that with moral clarity and courage, we can change the world" and who said "Regimes that do not respect the rights of their own people...
Published on December 23, 2004 by Ronald W. Satz

versus
36 of 48 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "Democracy marked-down in aisle five..."
The writers of the Federalist Papers were obsessed with the capacity for democracy to produce a tyranny of the mob. Sharansky is not so concerned.

The man is a bona fide hero of freedom, but that just makes the book more upsetting. His Case for Democracy is a depressing piece of work from a man who clearly loves liberty and has paid a steep price for it. His...
Published on March 4, 2005 by C. A. Ladd


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36 of 64 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A inconsistent plea for democracy and rights, February 21, 2005
By 
I picked up this book because its basic premise makes sense. Promoting democracy and human

rights all over the world. But there is a large difference between a goal such as building

more democracy in the world and the methods used to reach it.

Sharansky lives in a world of absolutes. There is only good

and evil, right and wrong,

war or peace. But the world has never been that simple. Every good democratic country

has done evil in form or another.

And for all of Sharansky's abosolutes, he and the book are firm believers in moral realativism

with regard to human rights. He seems positively angry that human rights cases come up

concerning good countries in international forums. And makes a case that such problems in good

countries should be ignored until countries like North Korea no longer exist.

Sharasky's idea that democracy inevitably leads to peace and tyranny to war isn't right.

Take the UK as an example. Northern Ireland was an advanced democracy on paper in the

1960s. But it was also an exercise in tyranny and fear that lead to decades of war.

Sharansky's logic would suggest that Catholic organizations were evil, didn't understand

democracy and should never have been negotiated with. Eternal war would be the only

solution. But truth was that democracy in northern ireland was compatable with ethnic

tyranny and that democracy it itself wasn't a solution. Neither was war on either side.

Take as the next example France. France fought wars in vietnam and Algeria

as a democracy years ago. France did horrible things in Algeria and opposed a free vote in

vietnam because the wrong people would win. France fought the wars using the Sharansky

logic that since Algeria and Vietnam were not ready for democracy, it was the role of

France to ready them for it.

Long lists can be drawn up of cases were democracies created tyranny and war. Only

willful ignorance of history would allow anyone to make the contrary argument.

The book also makes the argument that pushing democracy should be high on the international

agenda (as if it were not already there). Sharansky apparently missed South Africa and events

like the UN-brokered ending of wars in Angola and Cambodia with the reconstruction of democracy

in each. Or the transition away from dictatorship in Indonesia.

But its one thing to say put more pressure, but quite another what sort of pressure

and how it should be applied. Sharansky is for example dead slient on the accepted idea

that free trade leads to free people and that a country with good business conditions

(Russia, China) should be allowed to abuse human rights without any economic impact.

Nobody disputes that fighting for democracy is a good thing, but the question is can lasting

demcoracy be established by armies or heavy economic sanctions. History says no in what happened during de-colonialization.

And the results of the current american projects will not be known until several years after

America leaves those countries.

Sharansky also makes a false argument in the book. That those who oppose his idea

of imposing democracy by force somehow don't believe the people in those countries are

ready for democracy. That is not the argument his critics make. His critics have

repeatedly said that its a question of methods.

Carter pushed for democracy in Iran and what ended up happening was that the power void created

led to a worse tyranny than the Shah. Same thing in Nicaragua. If you destabilize an authoritarian

government, you can easily pluge a country into civil war or

a worse tyranny. And the worst

dictatorships can only be overthrown by large military force.

The part of the book I most disagree with is where the writer tries to reconcile in

his own mind his world of sharp-edged good and evil with criticism of the human

rights and policies of what to him are the good countries.

He eventually seems to conclude that moral realativism is the proper way to determine

what criticism is allowed in a good country. Hence, America's policies and human rights

are not up for discussion until Cuba changes governments. And

Israel's policies are not

up for discussion until Egypt and Jordan have european-style economies and democracy.

And thats where he fails. If wants to live in a world of absolutes, he has to

accept any valid criticism of Israel or America on its own merits. But in the

end, he can't do it because his whole system is based on the moral superiority of

America and Israel.

He sees America and Israel towering above the rest of the world teaching others freedom. But

the lesson that teaches to the world isn't freedom, its that

morality flows from military force and

economic power.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good and simplified case for promoting true world peace., April 2, 2007
I just read the editorial review by Jack Snyder. Don't listen to Jack Snyder. He's so full of nuances he can't see the simple picture. Read the book for yourself and see the proof unfolding itself in the news every day.

Sharansky has it right in it's basic form. His book is a concise review of the battle between governments based on FEAR and governments based on FREEDOM. You can match his review on how FEAR based societies manipulate their own people, their neighbors, and the UN to the recent tactics used by Iran in taking British sailors hostage. The Iranian staged "confessions," TV broadcasts, and foot stomping insistance that the "arrogant" Western powers apologize. The Iranians have been so predictable after you've read Sharansky's text on how FEAR based governments behave.

I recommend this book to anyone, young and old, who wants a basic framework through which to view current events. Sharansky's experience far outweighs those in the society of pundits and journalists who don't seem to see the forest from the trees.
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6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars all conservatives are not alike!!, August 22, 2005
By 
I have seen many people who call themselves conservative but who sound more Lyndon Johnson, Jimmy Carter or Woodrow Wilson than any conservative I've ever met. They eat up Sharansky's ideas that America can lead a holy crusade to fix whats wrong with all the world. Then when it comes time to explain why Sharansky should be telling America what wars it should be fighting, all they can say is that Sharansky was in a soviet jail 20 years ago. Being in jail doesn't make anyone a genius and his being in jail isn't going to convince anyone that fighting wars to bring freedom to the middle east is a good idea. If you are serious about supporting what Sharansky is calling for, then we need a bigger military and higher taxes to back up the policy. Its just like years ago. Everyone at home talks a big game about saving the world and things worth dying for right up to the point where anything is asked from them. Then they go quiet.

I would ask aside from the little yellow ribbon on the back bumper what any of you home-front heroes could offer in the way of real support if you want to drag the country into more Iraqs?The attitude that the american military is to be used for building democracy and americans are to give up their lives in a useless childish crusade to save the world from itself can only come from those who don't understand the purpose of the military. The American Military is not to be sent out on freedom projects dreamed up by an Israeli politician. Its there to defend our country.

And defending the country means doing things like hunting down and capturing terrorists (remember them?) rather than running around giving freedom to Iraq or some other sandpile in the middle east at the direction of some foreigner like Sharansky. Our idealistic heros don't seem to remember that its years later and we STILL can't capture the leader of the 9/11 terrorists. He sits in Pakistan and laughs as idiots like Sharansky do his work for him. What he wanted more than anything was whats happening now in Iraq. The American army trapped in a ground war in an arab country. Meanwhile our military is changing from a force designed to beat enemy armies into a force trained to occupy Iraq. Military weapons designers spend their time working on how to deal with roadside bombs rather than on enhancing and modernizing our forces. Research projects for new systems are being cut back in favor of Iraq.

And in spite of all that, the gutless home-front cowards who talk about sacrifice. None of them should dare talk about sacrifice when they and their leaders will not raise taxes one dollar to pay for a bigger or better army. Sacrifice means giving of yourself. And if your too old to serve, sacrifice means supporting the war effort in ways like giving up money. If it were 1941, all these big talkers would be opposing FDR's tax increases and rationing. You only support a war when you give of yourself. And if most Americans had to give of themselves in support of Sharansky-style nation-building freedom wars, they would not happen. The contention that the US Army's mission is to bring freedom and progress to the world is a liberal one. Unmask a neo-conservative like Sharansky and you will find a liberal. Behind those liberals you will find so-called conservatives and fair-weather patriots who love wars as long as they don't have to make any sacrifice themselves.

If you want to read a real conservative pro-military book on this subject, read sand of empires by Robert Merry. He, at least, is an American and true conservative voice on these matters.
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7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this book is brilliant, February 13, 2005
By 
Erica Ford (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
Spreading freedom and piece around the world is the surest way to eliminate terrorism.
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13 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sharansky's manifesto for Empire, April 3, 2005
Sharansky's book is a manifesto for overturning the international

order and turning the United States into an Empire. Like all empires,

the public motivation for this one is to be the spread of democracy

and stability. But thats never what these things are really about.

The Democracy that Sharansky supports isn't what most people would

think of. His Democracy is an authoritarian state like where collections

of powerful business, media and religious interests rule with an iron hand

with paper elections to justify their power. He goes to great length

to provide a justification for curtailment of speech in a democracy

in the name of security. He uses the very ideology of the fear dictatorships

(rights must be surrendered for security) and wishes to apply it to places

like the USA and Israel.

Sharansky goes to great length in the book to avoid dealing with the

arguments of his critics. He doesn't, for example, deal with the fact

that "democracies" (for example Pakistan) have often been bigger threats

to global security than fear states. Democratic Pakistan attacked its

neighbor, supported terrorists and traded nuclear technology all over

the world. Dictatorship pakistan is a US ally in the war on terror.

Sharansky laughs at the whole notion of peace as it has known for the

past few hundred years. All wars are between absolute good and absolute

evil. Therefore peace is impossible. Only evil starts wars and evil

must be destroyed. This fits in with his vision for Israel. Egypt

is Israel's enemy. Camp David was a "sellout". And on it goes.

Internationally, the new world order will consist of America and a handful

of client states like the UK and Israel. The rest of the world effectively

doesn't exist as countries. They are either rivals (Russia) or barbarians.

The ideals of the United Nations and international equality are

to be

discarded in favor of an American Empire.

America will be on top, but his pyramid will weight heavy on everyone

else below. No Empire is ever benevolent and arbitrary power exercised

internationally has never led to freedom. It leads to explotation.

Sharansky talks about court to dissent sometimes, but then comes back

and spends large numbers of pages on reasoning supporting the crushing

of dissent in the name of freedom. Sharansky's flaw is that he believes

in the right of dissent only for those who agree with him.

The madness of Sharansky is best explained in the context of Israel. His

policy is "not one inch" and "not one word". Arabs (Israeli

citizens

or not) are creatures to be given orders, but not spoken to.

If Sharansky seriously believed what he says in this book, he would

have been the friend and supporter of reform elements among Palestinians

and in Arab States. But thats not him. Sharansky has a policy of not

talking to any Arabs or Palestinians. He doesn't even seem to consider

them as humans or equals.

The results are still out on using force to build democracy. When

(if) the americans leave and the aid dries up, we will know what the

future of Afghanistan is.
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5 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting book by a hypocrite, February 12, 2007
Mr. Sharansky writes a book that has many cogent and relevent points that are applicable to the world today. However, one can't help but consider how he abides by the oppression of the Palestinians that his country has been committing for decades. He gives short shrift to this topic in his book, amazingly demanding that the Palestinians prove they are committed to democracy before Israel gives them their freedom. After reading his book, one comes away with the feeling that he supports freedom and democracy for all people, as long as it doesn't get in the way of Israel and it's decades long occupation of Palestine.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Case for Democracy: Necessary but not Sufficient, March 13, 2006
This book offers incredible insight into Sharansky's view of Democracy. This alone is worth reading this book. President Bush was so impressed by this book that he adopted Sharansky' views as American foreign policy.

However, the failure of this foreign policy, as it brought terrorists such as Hamas to power, screams there is something very wrong with Sharansky's analysis.

The question is where did Sharansky go wrong?

What Sharansky wrote while necessary is not sufficient. Sharansky overlooked that it was the equal rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as a LIFE oriented value system, within the premise to the US Constitution in the US Declaration of independence that makes for free Democracy.

The premise to the US Constitution guarantees inalienable equal rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. It includes rights to increased longevity, health and sanity. It also includes equal rights to free choices and only then to choose a life oriented choice. Last but not least, it includes rights to self-actualization that is not against the rights to life and liberty.

Accidental alignment with this premise will make democracy work too. That is possibly why it worked to turn the USSR into a Democracy. However only knowledgeable application of the Democratic US Constitution premise within the Declaration of Independence can keep dictators from controlling free democracies. Yet, due to ignorance of the masses a republic is required to ensure the premise is observed.

Unfortunately today, this too is not enough. The new premise adds the Safeguarding from loss of inalienable equal rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness and only then goes to practicing inalienable equal rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

The present premise to the US Constitution is to be changed accordingly.

This change was necessitated because Anti Democratic people such as Hitler, Gorbechev, Putin, Assad, Arafat and Abbas, learned how to violate the rights to sanity by using non-stop apparent respect behaviors-simultaneous with-real abuse behaviors as a crazy maker. The following is the way it works.

Apparent Peace behaviors-simultaneous with-Real Terrorism behaviors are used to non-stop violate equal rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This drives people into identification with the aggressor trances because of its built-in cognitive dissonance. Furthermore, there is no way out of this trance by knowledge within our norm.

However, safeguarding the premise may be obtained by outlawing all use of non-stop apparent respect behaviors-simultaneous with-real abuse behaviors. That is why it is necessary to upgrade the premise to the US Constitution.

In addition, the new premise will unite people even before it unites countries. It will unite religious and secular Jews and Christians because the new premise is directly from the Torah and the New Testament. The American forefathers got it from the Bible as follows.

All the ways of Torah are the ways of life.

The story of Passover in the Torah and at the Passover Seder in Jesus' Last Supper is the story of liberty and freedom.

Pursuit of happiness is God self actualizing as observed from his name, I WAS THAT I WAS to I AM THAT I AM to I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE.

The Safeguarding is derived from the requirement of P'Kuach Nefesh behavior when life, liberty or pursuit of happiness are violated. This instructs the person to take almost all the Laws of Torah and turn them upside down to safeguard equal rights to life, liberty or pursuit of happiness.

So, the bottom line is when Christians and Jews agree to this LIFE oriented premise thy will unite. This is a way for Moslems to unite too. As soon as they commit to this new LIFE oriented premise terrorism will stop. Yet, Moslems will be free to self actualize.

Considering all this, Sharansky is to be credited with starting the process of getting people aware of the power of Democracy to bring real peace. Therefore, I highly recommend this book.
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16 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A dishonest book by a con-man, May 3, 2005
The big problem with the book and with Sharansky in the west is that he isn't doing much more than "gaming" an ignorant audience. In America, a vast publicity machine exists to promote him as some sort of great humanitarian and friend of human rights. That isn't him. The only things he cares about is expanding settlements and destroying peace between Israel and any Arab state. He has also aggressively courted right wing christian support outside of Israel for his political ambitions inside the country. He and the Christians share a common agenda of keeping Israel at war forever.

The basics of his ideas are that America and Israel are the moral leaders of the planet when lead by right-wing governments. He divides everyone and everything into good and bad. There is no grey area. This moral vision of the world is far more dangerous than Wilsonian idealism or Nixonian Realpolitik. Because both of those political models at least allow for some level of respect for the views of others. Sharansky's world-view is that you either agree with him or your on the side of evil. Its a politics where there is no compromise and the only allowable outcome is the destruction of the other side.

Worse, he doesn't really understand democracy or what it means. He spends many pages in the case for democracy making a case against democracy or for a democracy where those of higher morality (right-wingers) get more rights than the immoral. He uses the traditional authoritarian reasoning that giving rights to irresponsible people puts democracy in danger. That rights (like speech) must be limited so that evil cannot attack the institutions of democracy through those rights.

Sharansky's background is also misunderstood by many. He didn't become a dissenter in the soviet union because of a love of freedom. He became a dissenter because he fell in love with the military power Israel showed in 1967 and because of his religious and almost tribal identification with Israel. He loved communism right up to the point where Israel proved to be stronger than the USSR client states and weapons in the 1967 war. In the end, what the man loves is power and not human rights or democracy.

Sharansky in the past few days resigned from a right-wing Israeli government. What did he object to? Israel talking to a palestinian leader who isn't arafat, Israel withdrawing militarily exposed settlements from the middle of the slums of Gaza and Israel making it difficult for palestinians from the territories to work in Israel. He doesn't care about peace. There will never be a palestinian who will meet his standard. And for those who think otherwise, a question: Which palestinian leaders (any party) can he name as friends of democracy or palestinians he has worked with in order to promote democracy.

The answer is none. The conclusions to be drawn from that are that either the palestinians are incapable right now of creating even a single advocate of democracy for Sharansky to work with or that Sharansky has another agenda than democracy.

Before anyone takes him seriously ask the even simpler question: What has this man done to help democracy among palestinians. Who has he ever tried to work with?

Sharansky's mix of self-rightous morality and advocacy of force as the basis for resolution of conflicts is dangerous for Israel, America and the world. He also has no real perspective on the world outside the middle east to offer. The real big question for democracy in the world today is China, not the middle east.
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24 of 49 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars the case for domination: The power of power to control, March 11, 2005
By 
Sid Shape (Alexandria, VA USA) - See all my reviews
This is a poorly written book that has the capacity to lead the world into a downward spiral

of violence and tyranny ending with the loss of the freedoms in claims to support. Rather

than making a case for freedom or democracy, Sharansky makes a case for empire and power

as being the central tenants of a new international order. His case that democracy should be

pursued to the exclusion of any other issue. Its a naive argument that at base says that

the only problem internationally is bad governments and that there is no real conflict between

nations or groups on the world.

Presumably, in the case of his own country, freedom and democracy will convince palestinians

that they don't need a state, political rights or anything other than the status quo. But

that seems unlikely to say the least. Sharansky himself has made it clear that democracy or

no democracy he would never give up an inch of territory, a settlement or allow a palestinian

state to exist.

He develops a pyramid system to replace the idea of equality internationally between countries.

At the top of the pyramid will sit the US, Israel and UK sitting up as moral judges over the

rest of the world. In the middle of the pyramid will sit countries that the US either fears

(China), cannot afford war with (India), or tolerates as useful pawns (Pakistan, Colombia,

Poland). And at the bottom of the pyramid will be those countries that either are in the way

of US policy or have something that the US wants. Either way, those at the bottom of the

pyramid can expect little good to come from this new system.

Sharansky then develops arguments for his critics. They are dismissed as either "realists" who

give up morality for strategic goals or "racists" who are saying that the countries are not

ready for democracy. Its an exercise in intellectual dishonesty. He very well knows the real

arguments made against his ideas, but he has no answer for them.

Many people can agree on human rights being a priority, but its not a simple thing to build

a democracy. Given that Sharanksy holds up the horrible example of Russia as a success, he

almost gives the impression that rather than free societies he is looking to support

authoritarian regimes who have enough window-dressing to create the illusion of freedom.

Declare freedom of speech but control the media such that nobody has a voice but the government.

Hold elections but structure them such that only one party can win. Thats not freedom.

Is force a solution? Probably not. The US doesn't have the stomach to pay for the wars its

already fighting. Its not willing to pay higher taxes or expand the military to cover the

current effort. Let alone do more.

The other problem ignored by Sharansky is what the effect of pressure on bad countries ends

up being. The more US pressure on Burma, the more Burma becomes in every way a client state

under the thumb of China. China is at the door of any country the rest of the world puts

pressure on offering help in exchange for economic and political concessions. The result of

sanctions on Pakistan in the 1990s was that a bad government was let loose to do whatever

it wanted with WMDs, terrorists and Afghanistan.

Sharansky also doesn't understand the implications of his system for the behavior of other

countries. If force becomes the rule of international relations, it doesn't just become

that for the US, it becomes that for China and every other country.

That path of moral power will lead the world into either a new arms race

or a war.

Those who take these ideas seriously are encouraged to take a good look at whats really going

on in Afghanistan these days. The three pillars of Afghan democracy are a wide-open drug

trade, a river of money coming in from the outside to support the international presence in the

country and the American Army. Remove any one of those three props and the whole thing is as

likely as not to fall over. Whats been built in the country will last precisely as long as

the flow of money from the US does.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have ever read, January 10, 2007
This book changed my world view drastically - Sharansky arguments, when taken in context, are airtight. Students of politics and world history must read this book.
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The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror
The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror by Anatoly Shcharansky (Audio Cassette - April 1, 2005)
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