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The Case For Democracy: The Power Of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny And Terror Paperback – February 7, 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
Drawing on his autobiography—from Soviet refusenik to Israeli cabinet minister – Sharansky distinguishes between "fear" and "free" societies. He spends a significant amount of time taking on conservative "realists" who prize stability in international relations, as well as liberals who he says fail to distinguish between flawed democracies that struggle to implement human rights and authoritarian or totalitarian states that flout human rights as a matter of course. Sharansky criticizes those who argue that democracy is culturally contingent and therefore unsuited for Muslim societies. Turning to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he mentions documented Israeli human rights abuses, but places the bulk of the blame for the conflict on the dictatorial systems prevalent in Arab societies. He also weighs in on the vexing subject of how to distinguish legitimate criticism of Israel from the "new anti-Semitism." Such criticism must pass the "3D" test of "[no] demonization, double standards, or delegitimation." Sharansky does not grapple deeply with the current situation in Iraq, but his opinions throughout, honed through years in a Soviet prison and in the corridors of power, feel earned.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"I felt like his book confirmed what I believe." -- President George W. Bush --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Sahransky makes the case for not "dealing with the Devils" and shows how we have made that mistake over and over.
Sharansky himself offers an interesting and personal perspective on the matters he writes about since he was a Soviet dissedent during the Cold War - a refusenik. Now, he is a Isreali politician. Basically, his thesis is that making a democracy anywhere makes all democracies safer everywhere.
Is he correct? Well, Sharansky offers his personal history as well as world history to support his thesis. No matter your opinion, a compelling case is made by the author regarding the strength of democracies. There is no doubt that this book is written from the international realist school. And frankly, this book would make a compelling starting point for discussions in a graduate seminar on political theory or international relations.
The author does not believe in observing normative international law - as he believes, for example, that the United States can bypass the United Nations, and not observe international law in its pursuit of spreading democracy.
Is he correct? Well, reader, I again believe in opining on the book itself. Unlike many a graduate course textbook you could read on the subject - Martin Lipset jumps to my mind - frankly anyone interested in politics and the international arena can benefit from this book. It is extremely well written, thought provoking, and while intellectually challenging, easy to read. You may fault the author on every page, or wear out your head nodding in agreement, however, it is still a good book.
In short, whether you agree or disagree with the author's central thesis, this book is so important to read. It is a magnifying glass into the intellectual battlefront of the current administration and its critics, and also a blueprint for this nation's beliefs about itself and the course being steered on foreign policy. A book well worth reading for the quality of argument, the ease of understanding, and the ability of the author to stir argument.
On the other side The Case fails to account for the message of Samuel P. Huntington (The Clash of Civilizations). The Case ignores the role cultural and religious factors. By assuming that the only differences between the peoples of the earth are their forms of governments The Case greatly oversimplifies foreign policy questions and ignores two of the most powerful forces in history. Namely faith and ethnicity. Bush and Shcharansky have much in common both good and bad. Both are freedom loving, historically minded, principled men, who lack the depth of understanding required to tackle real world problems.
Read The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order to further inform your perspective. Taken together these books are quite a bit more than the sum of their parts.
I have read the arm-chair criticisms of several reviews here panning, not just Sharansky's book, but the man himself. Sharansky's views were hammered out through many years as a victim over the anvil of a totalitarian regime. It is both his suffering and his refusal to bow that gives him credence and his voice legitimacy. He says;
"We dissidents could ready ourselves psychologically for a life of risk, arrest, and imprisonment. But we could never fully prepare ourselves for the disappointment that came from seeing the free world abandon its own values. And nowhere was this disappointment more bitterly experienced than from the confines of a prison cell."
I would ask what equivalent time his critics could offer to fortify the liberal, pseudo-intellectual fluff that they purport as "counter-argument"? Of course, those without such credentials will passionately denigrate them. Where the voice of truth is raised, it's enemies immediately swarm in abundance.
Many liberals will argue that war is never justifiable. They would pass by the alley from which a woman's voice of terror emanates. The attitude that there is nothing worth dying for can only come from the churning bowels of a cowardice that permeates "progressive" thought. The contention that peace can be bought by appeasing an enemy whose sole existence is bent on our annihilation is the contention of one who deserves his inexorable fate at the hands of that enemy.