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Dave Melsness

Exporting Democracy: The American Control Freak

The United States of America is the leader of the free world. Throughout modern history,

the United States has promoted and helped to establish democracy throughout the world. The

spreading of democracy throughout the world seems like a good thing; however, the tactics that

the United States have used to spread democracy are seen by many as all but ethical.

One argument that could be presented is that the United States' involvement in helping

establish other governments has caused in the past, and is today only causing, more trouble.

Chalmers Johnson believes, "If the United States would have minded its own business in the war

between the British and German empires, we might well have avoided Nazism." As Americans,

we have a belief that we have the best way of running government in the world, and as a result,

we have been known to step in and help other countries emulate our form of government.

In the past, much of United States' democratization has been unsuccessful in the long run.

According to The Federation of American Scientists, "there have been over 201 overseas

military operations from the end of World War Two until September 11, 2001 in which we

[United States] were involved and normally struck the first blow (not including Iraq and

Afghanistan)." Accounting for all of these military operations, none of these resulted in

democratic governments as a direct result.

Today, we are locked in a war against terrorism. To me, this seems somewhat contradictive

to our-selves. I say this because it seems as though we have forgotten what we have done in

Cuba. During the Cuban revolution, the United States was responsible for backing some rather
extensive terrorist operations against Fidel Castro, the Cuban leader. The United States went so

far as to create assassination plots, to devise poison cigars, and to teach Cuban-Americans

military skills so they could invade and undermine the Cuban government in order to establish a


Japan is commonly looked at as an American success for establishing democracy. On the

outside, this is true, but dare to take a closer look and it becomes apparent that Japan does not

have an ideal democracy. Immediately after World War Two, United States General Douglas

MacArthur was in charge of American military operations in the conquered Japan. In a sense,

MacArthur was a dictator, with the goal of deflecting an ideal democracy to prevent the popular

opinion of allowing a socialist or communist party to power. The Japanese government after

World War Two still had many of the old rulers from before the war in power. Emperor Hirohito

remained in power until his death in 1989, and many rulers from the prewar "industrial and

militarist classes" also ruled Japan until about 1994 ( With this limited

turnover in government, can this really be considered a genuine democracy? Public opinion is

very important in Japan, but it has never been tested to see if it could withstand problems that a

democracy may face. This can be seen very easily because the stability of the Japanese

government greatly relies on the presence of the United States to provide national security.

As Americans, we have a belief that we have the best way of running government in the

world, and as a result, we have been known to step in and help other countries emulate our form

of government.

In the past, democratization has not been overly successful. From what I have observed,

it is not appropriate for the United States to play a role in the governments of other countries.

Governments that have been produced are quite often not self-sustaining governments and
require the presence of the United States for protection and the maintenance of sovereignty.

Many times the ways of which the United States has attempted to establish democratic

governments have not been ethical and, in the end, are quite often just a waste of time and


Works Cited

Ginsberg, Benjamin, Theodore J. Lowi, and Margaret Weir. We the People. 6th ed. New York:

W.W. Norton & Company, 2007. 26.

Johnson, Chalmers, and Tom Dispatch. "Exporting the American Model: Markets and

Democracy." Global Research. 5 May 2006. 9 Mar. 2008