John O'Sullivan CBE
JOHN O’SULLIVAN, CBE
EUROPE, AMERICA AND DEMOCRACY
John O'Sullivan is the Executive Editor of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. RFE / RL broadcasts to 21 Countries in 28 Languages providing news, information, and responsible discussion of domestic and international issues to countries where free and independent media are not permitted, or not yet fully established.
John is also a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington. His previous posts have included Special Adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. John has served as editor of many respected international affairs magazines and was Associate Editor of The Times.
He is the founder and Co-Chairman of the New Atlantic Initiative, dedicated to reinvigorating and expanding the Atlantic community of democracies. The N.A.I. was formally launched at the Congress of Prague in May 1996 by President Václav Havel and Lady Thatcher. John is on the Advisory Council of the Social Affairs Unit and the Bruges Group. In 1991 John was awarded a C.B.E.
Speech by John O'Sullivan, CBE
Thank you very much Mr Chairman and it’s a great pleasure as well as an honour to be here at the Bruges Group. This is a group that was founded by a personal friend of mine, Ralph Harris, which has been sustained for years by other personal friends like Norman Lamont and Ken Minogue and which throughout this has been a kind of steady sensible voice in favour of defending British sovereignty and sovereign independence calmly and reasonably and without going to extremes.
You did in fact host a speech of mine once before at the Tory Conference and so I feel flattered to be invited a second time, an example like Johnson’s remark on marriage, the triumph of hope over experience. But my speech today is about democracy which is suddenly and for a number of diverse and contradictory reasons in the news again. It’s involved in a number of crises and a number of countries: Russia, the Middle East, Russia’s new neighbours from Ukraine to Georgia, Iran and China and in disputes from the Orange Revolution to the Irish Referendum. Somehow or other, although these are very different crises occurring in very different countries, democracy is a central part of them.
And there is in fact an instructive comparison between the Orange Revolution and the Irish Referendum. Why was it so much more shocking for Mr Yanukovych to seek to rig an election in which he had a reasonably good chance of actually prevailing fair and square, why was it shocking that he should do that while it wasn’t particularly shocking for President Sarkozy to refuse to hold a referendum precisely because he thought he might lose it over the Lisbon Treaty and that decision was treated with relative equanimity? After all, if I were so minded, if I wanted to be a Kremlin defender, a spokesman, I think I could make quite a good case for opposing the Orange Revolution. I think I would say something like this:
Look if the Orange Revolution wins they’ll be an election in which 51/52/53/54% of the people prevail over 46% and they will then radically change the whole direction of Ukrainian politics from traditional relationship with Russia to an entirely new one with the west, a west which at the moment anyway is far from ready to receive them. Surely if democracy is to be a real thing rather than a fraudulent one, rather than a paper one, surely in these circumstances you need a two thirds majority but you certainly need, following the election result, a certain modesty on the part of the prevailing majority when it’s a majority which is relatively modest and when the changes being proposed are nothing less than the total reorientation of a country.
I’m not a Kremlin spokesman so I won’t make this case. But traditionally of course the Conservatives have said about for example the 1934 revolution in Spain, that that was really when the Spanish civil war began because a tiny majority in Parliament was used to try to impose a revolution on a society, a revolution which among other things involved the murder of the opposition leader.
So as I say, if I were a spokesman for the Kremlin’s point of view I think I could make quite a good case that the Orange Revolution was less democratic than the Irish Referendum. Yet the attempt to crush the Orange Revolution invoked a very strong and unusually united western response. It had the backing of the United States, of the EU and particularly of the Polish President at the time, a former communist. The decision to crush or ignore or seek to reverse the Irish Referendum on the other hand has been relatively non-controversial and the frankness of the anti-democratic justifications for paying no attention to it have been to my ears really quite shocking and certainly surprising and yet they don’t seem to have evoked much of a response either in popular terms or indeed from the people who normally are very ready to step forward when democracy is being threatened.
Now why is there this sort of very odd distinction between the two events? Well one reason of course is that there was an attempt to murder the current President of the Ukraine during the campaign and that is bound to get people’s attention and to make them somewhat annoyed. It really tells you that you’re dealing with a very unpleasant lot of people and it’s a different kind of politics that you’re choosing when you vote against them and for somebody else. After all no one thinks that President Sarkozy or indeed any EU official would attempt to murder the Irish Prime Minister even supposing they could find out who he is.
So that was one reason, but that in a sense symbolises an underlying further reason, namely we thought about the Orange Revolution this way, we thought about it as an opportunity for people to leave an autocratic regime and move into a new transitional democratic form of society. We reckoned that it would be a very difficult road head and that has proved to be the case but we nonetheless thought it opened up a real better future, a liberal democratic future for the people of the Ukraine. On the other hand, when people looked at the Irish Referendum, whatever else they thought about it, they simply didn’t see it in anything like those apocalyptic terms, they saw it as the Irish moving from one democratic system to another democratic system in which power had shifted somewhat from the Doyle to Brussels but it wasn’t anything truly dramatic or indeed irreversible, which I think people did think the Orange Revolution was going to be.
Incidentally I am told, there may be people in the audience who have some good information on this, that MI6 played a crucial role in the Orange Revolution having discovered that the miners who supported the Stalin side of the equation were going to turn up in Kiev in very large numbers in buses and beat the living daylights out of the Orange Revolutionaries. They very, very thoughtfully provided the buses with masses and masses of free vodka, which ensured that when the miners did arrive, they were completely plastered and in no condition to do harm to anybody. So I pay tribute to the shrewdness of our security services here.
Now if I’m right, if that’s the reason why we look differently at these two events, and I may come back to them, and whether or not that’s an accurate distinction I’ll come to later, but for the moment the comparison illustrates that democracy remains a key element in the way we judge international crises. We judge things by whether or not they advance or retard progress towards a freer and more democratic society, and I’m aware that liberal and democratic don’t mean the same thing and that will become important in a moment.
Until a few years ago however we assumed, and by we I mean some observers like Francis Fukuyama, Robert Kagan, Tom Friedman, even George W. Bush that the democratic revolution in world politics was more or less unstoppable between 1989 say and 2001, lets say September 11, 2001, there was a conventional wisdom in the world which ran as follows:
We’re seeing a series of developments of great importance which are changing the international order. There is the erosion of trade and capital barriers globally which is leading to a massive increase in trade and movement of capital. There is also mass migration of peoples leading to much more cosmopolitan societies all round and in fact the invention of a new form perhaps of society called a multicultural democracy. We are also seeing at the same time the erosion of the nation state as it loses power downwards to subordinate sub-national groups and as it loses regions and as it loses power upwards to super-national institutions like the UN and the EU and the various bodies which surround them in that kind of penumbra, which I think Kenneth Minogue called ‘Acronymia’.
And we are seeing not only super-national bodies, which are taking power from the nation state, but we are also seeing a new form of international law which deals directly with people and corporations and voluntary bodies rather than simply arbitrate between states.
We were seeing a rise in the importance and the power of trans-national bodies, the EU and UN etc. We were seeing the rise of what we call the NGO revolution, the revolution of non-governmental organisations, which UN officials, Kofi Annan particularly, said were the democratic justification for this shift of power from nations to super-national organisations, these NGOs were in fact the new global electorate. It was an interesting argument, although I have to say that considering that the NGOs that turn up at UN conferences have to be approved by the UN and considering that many of them are financed by the UN and some others are financed by Member Governments, this was one of those cases in which the politicians choose the electors rather than the electors choosing the politicians.
Anyway all of these developments together and they were expressed in books like Tom Friedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree, this conventional wisdom suggested that we were moving towards a new post-national global order, one in which people would have multiple citizenship in overlapping jurisdictions in which their rights would be protected not by domestic laws but by human rights regime enforced partly by NGOs, partly by international courts. In which lawfare as it is called, would replace warfare as more and more disputes between states were determined by international bodies and in which geopolitics would be replaced by geo-economics.
Now during this period, when people looked at these changes if they saw an obstacle to them at all it was the United States, why was that? Well the United States was both the indispensable prop and the large obstacle to this system working as its advocates wanted it to work. Of course international order depended on the US for enforcements of its legal decisions and for its occasional interventions as in for example the Gulf War or in Somalia or in a negative example in Rwanda. The genocide occurred in Rwanda because the great powers and in particular the United States would not send in their troops in sufficient numbers to stop it and therefore all of the actions by the UN and other bodies to prevent genocide in Rwanda could go nowhere. So in the first place the United States was necessary for the workings of this institution, it was the power that could actually move men and materials around the world quickly either for peaceful or for warlike purposes.
At the same time the US refused as a very self-confident sovereign state to be bound solely, to have its policy determined by UN decisions and by other international agencies and the reason for this is of course partly internal. The United States is far more than European countries a liberal constitutional democracy with a constitution which actually ensures that international laws cannot be enforced or treaties cannot become part of the fundamental law of the United States unless they are democratically ratified.
That is very different for example to the German constitution which actually has as one of its provisions the ruling that international law always takes precedence over German law. Something which by the way is fine provided that the Germans are happy with international law, but if international law ever significantly outrages the moral consensus in Germany it’s very difficult to see what is going to happen. Will an entire people follow laws which they haven’t themselves determined democratically and which outrage their deepest feelings. Nobody thinks that a problem at the moment because everybody thinks that the international law is going to be more or less in line with the sentiments of the German majority, which it seems to be at the moment. But of course those things change.
But America was there as a sovereign power which did not allow its policies to be determined by international agencies or by the UN or by international law, although it obviously attempted to accommodate all of these forces in its decisions and in its policies. It was kind of like a mammoth frozen in Westphalian ice but it was a very necessary mammoth when you wanted force to be used.
Now much agonising from Kofi Annan in particular was expended on how to get the US to obey UN decisions and to be bound by them. That was the great argument of the day and then some people flew two planes into the twin towers and this entire Utopian new moral order in world politics took a backseat as the UN began to act like a conventional sovereign state, it pursued its vital interests in Afghanistan and later Iraq. In doing so it recruited other states, which had armies and intelligence services that could be of use and assistance, in particular this country but others too, to be its allies and they stepped forward and acted in this way and they did so seeking international approval and the support of the international community and getting diluted versions of it but not getting what most people considered to be the support of the UN Security Council on a key moment.
Therefore at this point the United States intervened partly to justify its intervention but partly expressing its own sentiments as a great power, began to emphasise the importance of spreading democracy in the Middle East and to defending democracy where it existed elsewhere as a basic element in its foreign policy.
Now what had happened to change this was of course the sudden emergence on the world stage of radical Islam and radical Islam has dominated quite a lot of our foreign policy conversation in the months and years since then. I want to suggest to you that this is almost certainly mistaken, this is not to say that I don’t regard radical Islam as a very important international problem, it plainly is and its not to say that I don’t think its something that our policies shouldn’t aim to combat, it plainly should, but I also would suggest to you that it is by no means the kind of threat that is itself an existential threat to our society in the same way that the Soviet Union was for the better part of 70 years. Radical Islam as I say is a threat but not to democracy and not to a world order which is based in large part upon democratic ideas. And let me suggest a number of reasons why.
First of all its main aim is really unattainable. Its main aim is a world Khalifah ruling a world that would have been largely converted to Islam or in a situation of submission to it. There are simply not enough Muslims who support this idea with sufficient fervour for it to come about and certainly it can’t be attractive to other than a handful of non-Muslims and one would have to guess that their motives there would be largely psychological. So this is an aim which just doesn’t have sufficient support of any serious kind to ever succeed.
Secondly, the main threat it poses to us and it’s a very serious one, is of destroying a city and killing millions of people. Obviously I’m not going to make light of that, it’s an important and horrifying thought. But such an act, even if repeated several times, would not replace a single infidel government with an Islamist one let alone advance seriously towards a world Khalifah. In fact it would embolden the countries which had suffered this attack into repressing the movement far more ferociously than they of course are doing now.
Thirdly, I would point out to you that the record for radical Islam since September 11 is a thoroughly miserable one. It has not so far replaced a single apostate government in the Arab or Islamic world with a government run by the faithful. It has in fact lost the few official strongholds, mainly Afghanistan, that it had years ago when we began to be seriously aware of it.
Fourthly, it is being decimated. In fact decimated understates the losses that the forces of radical Islam have suffered in the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Somalia and elsewhere. I do not at all underestimate the possibility of serious upheavals in Afghanistan itself where the main battle at the moment is raging or worse in Pakistan next door. These are real threats, we have to take them seriously but I don’t believe that there is going to be anything like a takeover of these countries providing secure safe havens for terrorist groups to operate against the rest of the world, I don’t believe that is going to happen and if it does happen I would suggest it would be allowed to remain in being for only a very short time before the great powers took action to stop it. Because one of the things we should remember is that although there are enormous divisions of opinion and interest between the United States, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Russia, China, India and so on, almost the one cause in which they are all united and united in a way that means they are determined to do something about it is opposition to radical Islam.
So there is no prospect so to speak of their doing well and as the pointlessness of fighting and dying for no good reason spreads I think we will see Al-Qaeda’s recruitment seriously diminished and maybe that has already started to happen. But that will take time and will possibly involve serious military conflict in the meantime. I would suggest that although I’m living at the moment in Prague and I follow the news in the media in the United States rather more than I do here, but my impression is that the success of the surge in Iraq has already dented the myth of the invisible Al-Qaeda guerrilla and established an Iraqi government that will be reasonably stable and moderately democratic and therefore a serious power in the Middle East.
Now again I’m not being Utopian, I think this will take time but I think it’s important. So in brief the jihadist movement though it may still wound us horribly cannot win and is in fact losing to the democratic impulse in places like Lebanon, though again that may be a long business if defeat will be a matter of military police actions rather than a global ideological struggle such as we recall from the Cold War.
But while our attention was turned to Al-Qaeda, a new old enemy emerged to plague the democratic world, namely the resurgent authoritarian regimes of Russia, China and Central Asia and others too. Two books have recently been published which deal with this topical problem. They are The New Cold War by Edward Lucas the economist and The Return of History and The End of Dreams by Robert Kagan. Both are important and interesting books, Mr Lucas’ book is a fine book and I’m not going to be saying a great deal about it here because I have more differences with Bob Kagan than I do with Edward Lucas and I’m going to focus more on what Kagan writes.
But it’s fair to say that both books depict what Lucas calls a new Cold War between a liberal democratic west and a resurgent authoritarianism. It is obviously a more realistic picture it seems to me than a similar war between the west and jihadism if we’re looking for major conflict. The new authoritarianism is also a more substantial threat though a less terrifying one, nobody thinks that Russia and China at the moment are embarking on the kind of crusading world conquest that the Soviet Union did for so long. The dangers of war are like the dangers of war with Germany before the First World War, which is a warning to us but namely they arise from clashes of interest from errors, from national egoisms which everyone is now much more aware of the dangers of them than they were say in 1914. So there are threats, there are dangers but they are not quite the same as the threat of simply finding yourself with a bomb that destroys your capital city in ten seconds.
Countries like China and Russia are substantial powers with real influence in world politics, that’s what makes them the more serious threat. They are also not only non-democratic today but, as both authors point out, self-consciously critical of democracy as unsuitable to their own societies and not a very secure basis for an international order. And these countries are capable of attracting other states to join their own counter-NATO organisations. For example the Shanghai Cooperation Treaty to which Iran now goes to as an observer.
Now where has their power suddenly emerged from in the last 10-15 years because 10-15 years ago China was certainly a growing power but none of these countries were either powerful or really threatening to us in the case of Russia, Russia seemed both weak and also compliant. Well I think the following factors have emerged to support the new authoritarians.
First of all economics, China of course has had this astounding growth rate. Even if you dispute the official figures and even if you take into account the risks of China’s potential instability, even so it is astonishing how quickly and rapidly the Chinese economy has developed, how much wealthier ordinary people are, how there is now a new substantial Chinese middle class which is going to want to enjoy a western middle class lifestyle. As the Chinese have earned their economic power, so Russia has benefited from oil prices too, not to the same degree but to an astounding degree. These changes, the economic rise of both countries or the economic transformation of both countries has enabled them to finance both higher living standards for their people and a large increase in military spending so that both of them now are much more important military powers and much more risk-taking military powers as we see in Georgia, than they were a few years ago.
The second factor is a point that was made in advance by the political theorist John Gray. He argued against the democratisers in the 90s and I think his case has been proved, he argued that it was a mistake to think that the only form of legitimacy that governments could in future enjoy would essentially be the democratic test of popular consent. A view that although I think it is without genuine substance nonetheless was widely held. He pointed out that the legitimacy throughout history and today in the countries we’re describing rests on different but very important features, it rests for example on the delivery of better times for the mass of the population, it rests upon their adherence to the traditional values of the society, it rests upon the belief of their people that they have restored national greatness after a period of humiliation.
Now certainly I think the Chinese can claim to have ticked all of those boxes and the Russians to have ticked two of them, I think there are people in this room, Helen Szamuely for example who could tell us I think rightly that the fundamental pillars of Russian recovery are extremely fragile. Russia is a society which is demographically declining very rapidly and if there were to be a fall in oil prices, and I think we’d be foolish to assume that will never happen, it would have a dramatic effect upon Russia, particularly because so much of the oil wealth and the energy wealth has gone not into building infrastructure and investing in the society but its gone instead into immediately increasing living standards and into military expenditure. But nonetheless for the moment, as John Gray argued a dozen years ago, these countries, these regimes enjoy a legitimacy which they didn’t seem likely to some time before that.
Both China and Russia are also leading members of international institutions; they are both members of the UN Security Council. That in the most direct sense gives them the ability to influence major decisions as we know. For example one reason why the war in Kosovo did not have the backing of the UN, it had to be backed instead with the lesser legitimacy of NATO was because the Russians were going to veto and did threaten to veto any resolution that was put forward in that way. In addition to enjoying that kind of direct power their membership of the Security Council and other international bodies gives them the benefit of a more general prestige.
A fourth factor is something that Roger Scruton has discussed, and this is a point which is more intangible than the others but I think not trivial, and that is that states like Russia and China undemocratic though they are, at least know who they are unlike the post-modern states of Europe and some of the post-modern institutions in the EU and elsewhere, they do not have an identity problem. And as Scruton points out, only states that possess an identity have the capacity to react, to defend themselves, to see what their interests are and to take action to defend them or in shorthand, without a nation you can hardly have a national interest. So these countries therefore in a sense have the ability both to think and act quickly and decisively in ways which let us say the EU for all kinds of reasons cannot do.
Now what has been the impact of these states and their rise? Well it has given new self-confidence to authoritarian regimes throughout Asia and elsewhere. My day job is that I’m the Executive Editor Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty and I can tell you on a daily basis I actually have to worry very seriously about this. One of our journalists was murdered by the Uzbek Secret Service, which came next door into Kazakhstan to shoot him. Two weeks ago Uzbek television ran a programme about the Uzbek service we run in which they’ve secretly filmed all the members of staff and in the broadcast gave their names, the names of their family, their addresses, where their children were at school and so on. When this happened a Hungarian friend of mine at the station said, oh that used to happen to us when we were children, they would show us films about Radio Free Europe in the schools with the people filmed in secret so to speak and they would name the journalists and denounce them as traitors and so on and so fourth.
Well those journalists were mostly living in Munich at the time and I suppose they were not likely to be murdered by the Hungarian Secret Service, although one wouldn’t put anything past them, but we know on the basis of experience that these intelligence services actually do murder people and they do so very often after they have named them as enemies of the society.
So in the most direct way I’m aware of the trend of rising authoritarianism and the changing nature of the societies in which these governments exist. Until recently they were nervous of the west, the prestige of Putin, the prestige of Russia is changing this somewhat, I mean its not changing it totally, but it is changing it and that’s something which we have to be aware of.
Now as I say it’s not completely one-sided, they haven’t decided Putin has won, they’re still wary of the west and that’s why for example they’re talking to America about bases and so on, but they’re not so confident that they will have to bend to the complaints of Western Europe and the United States about democratic practices. Ten years ago they were fearful on this score; today they’re much more likely to tell us to get lost and to treat our people in the way I’ve described.
And all of this is fuelled or inspired by Putin’s success and China’s rise. None authoritarian states have to take account of the new influence on the world stage of these powers as well. Pakistan and India have to be very aware of China, they have to take part in a kind of juggling exercise and thirdly international institutions can no longer be quite so confident certainly as they were. The influence by western values as the Chinese and the Russians grow in power and influence so the decisions of international institutions will be more and more influenced by their policies.
Now having said all that, let me give you what Kagan says is the bottom line here, its on page 73. He says ‘it may not come to war but the global competition between democratic and autocratic governments will be the dominant feature of the 21st century. The great powers are an increasingly choosing of sides and identifying themselves with one camp or the other. India, which during the Cold War was proudly neutral or even pro-Soviet has begun to identify itself as part of the democratic west. Japan in recent years has also gone out of its way to position itself as a democratic great power sharing common values with other Asian democracies and also with non-Asian democracies. For both Japan and India the desire to be part of the democratic world is genuine but it is also part of a geopolitical calculation. There is no perfect symmetry...’ and he goes on to discuss the ways in which these countries also have to, for straight forward balance of power reasons, deal with China and other countries.
Now is that correct? Is there this new Cold War between these two clearly defined sides? I want to suggest to you that in fact there are not, is this the ideological gulf which is going to dominate our lives as the Cold War dominated our lives for so long. I want to suggest to you that that is not the case; I want to suggest to you that there is not a two-way division in world politics but a three-way division. Once I might have been foolish enough to think a three-way division included the jihadists but I no longer believe that that is a real threat.
So what is the third power? Well that comes when Kagan discusses the relationship between Europe and America. Throughout he takes the view that Europe and America, having drifted apart over Iraq, are coming together more and more, that Sarkozy and Merkel are much more important figures for the future, that they have realised there can be no serious division across the Atlantic and that there’s going to be in a sense not a completely united west but a substantially united west to engage in the battle with the authoritarians.
But he also says something extremely interesting, he says at one point that a lot of Europeans, he doesn’t say Americans and he doesn’t say westerners, he says a lot of Europeans are worried that the new authoritarians pose an ideological competition with the EU. Now this is a very interesting remark and I think the reason its interesting is because the EU itself sees itself as being an ideological competitor not only to the authoritarian countries but also to the United States.
Why do I say that? Well the structure of the European Union sees itself as a new kind of entity in world politics. It says this repeatedly, it says it doesn’t want to be a super power exactly but it wants to be more than a confederation or a free trade area, it wants to develop a new kind of politics. The more you examine these statements the more interesting they are because one of the things which is always missing from them is any real attention to democracy. Except for democracy outwards the EU has a view of a democratic mission in which it gradually by assistance of various kinds rather than by military force, by offers of membership of the EU induces these countries to act in a more democratic way to protect minorities and to bring in democratic institutions.
However, as Ralph Dahrendorf pointed out, the EU could not join itself because its institutions are not sufficiently democratic to pass the democratic tests it demands of any new potential members. And when one tries to look at what the nature of this new society is, I think it becomes clear that it is a new entity, it is an entity that is more liberal than democratic, it has a number of rules and regulations that attempt to protect minorities, it establishes these rules through legal processes, it wants to encourage world institutions and global institutions to go along the same lines so its very supportive of bodies like the Kyoto Treaty, the ICC, various UN organisations, which again are in a sense more remarkable for being liberal, by which I mean concerned with protecting rights, than they are being democratic, by which I mean expressing majority views.
And this in the EU is one example of a broader international trend which is very marked in Europe and less marked in the United States and that is the transfer of power from elected accountable bodies to non-elected unaccountable ones. So power has gone on both sides of the Atlantic from congresses and parliaments to the courts, its gone from congresses and parliaments to bureaucratic agencies which are in theory accountable but at such remote remove as to make that impractical. We see the drift of power from Westminster to Brussels but we also see the drift of power from Westminster to international treaties which compel countries to operate in a certain way and for example there are now UN agencies which come to the is country and come to Canada and other democratic countries as well as actually more often than to autocratic ones, in which they require evidence that these countries are living up to their signatures on various international treaties involving economic and social rights. And those issues of course go to the very heart of domestic politics but nonetheless the British Government obligingly turns up and tries to convince people that it is keeping the rules.
Now when we look at the EU, when we look at the UN and when we look at these various bodies, what we’re looking at I think is bodies which are as I say, more liberal than democratic or perhaps one should say more radical than democratic and the difference between the EU and the United States in the kind of conflicts which I’ve been describing, international conflicts from Iraq to Rwanda has been that the United States has been less prepared to follow the instructions and injunctions of international bodies and the EU has been more prepared and indeed insistent upon doing so. The United States has been more prepared to act in its own interest as in for example the moment of the missile defence deals its doing with two East European countries. The West Europeans, even though the missiles are aimed at them and they are in the weaker position, have been relatively uninterested in this and privately often somewhat hostile.
So when we look at the EU what we’re looking at is something which, as the Irish Referendum suggested, is not so much a democratic institution as what my colleague at the Hudson Institute, John Fonte calls a post-democratic institution. It’s an institution the features of which are more interested in removing power from the majority which the rulers suspect and vesting it in a new class of lawyers, human rights bureaucrats and other international and national officials who no longer wish to be subordinate to democratic institutions or who may not have self-consciously rejected democracy. In fact generally speaking they came to be democrats but who have become happily used to post-democratic structures that mean that democratic accountability is not really an important element in their life.
In other words we are facing in international politics today the division that has existed in European politics since the French Revolution, by which I mean there are traditional regimes the equivalent of today’s authoritarians. There are democratic movements, fundamentally the Anglo-Scottish American Wig enlightenment. They are the ideological forebears of today’s American diplomats and then finally there are the French Revolution, its children and grandchildren, the people who see democracy not as a method of elucidating the popular will and seeing how best it can be implemented but who rather see a government as a way of transforming people for the better without them having a great deal to say in the matter.
So when I look at an international situation today through the lens of democratic concerns, as I say I see not this new Cold War between authoritarians and democrats but a three-sided conflict between authoritarians on the one hand and on the other between people who want our lives to be run by institutions which are far away and over which we have little control and those who still believe that the liberal democratic state is the best way that men and women have yet found of ordering their collective lives.