Does the United States have a responsibility to help spread democracy throughout the world? Explain your answer

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I would tend to say that we do not, although I am by no means an isolationist.  I do think it is our responsibility to set a good democratic example, something I think we have not been doing very successfully for the past few years.  But countries must make their own choices about the form of government they wish to have, and I think it is extremely arrogant of us to assume that our way is the best way for someone else, even if we believe, as I do, that it is the best way for us. 

There are historical and cultural factors that place different parts of the world in different stages of development, and that alone suggests that some places are simply not ready for democracy.  China is a good example, a country that is so large and so acclimated to dictatorship that it might be presently unmanageable as a democracy.  As the country becomes more capitalistic and technology creates a more exposure to ideas, it seems likely to me that it will become a democracy some day.  But it would be obnoxiously intrusive of us to see it as our job to make it a democracy.  And of course, we can now see the fallout of our efforts to make Iraq a democracy.  Democracy does not fair well when it is brought about via soldiers from another country. 

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