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The Case For Democracy
     

The Case For Democracy

4.8 9
by Natan Sharansky, Anatoly Shcharansky, Ron Dermer, Ron Dermer
 

ISBN-10: 1586482610

ISBN-13: 9781586482619

Pub. Date: 11/08/2004

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Natan Sharansky believes that the truest expression of democracy is the ability to stand in the middle of a town square and express one's views without fear of imprisonment. He should know. A dissident in the USSR, Sharansky was jailed for nine years for challenging Soviet policies. During that time he reinforced his moral conviction that democracy is essential to

Overview

Natan Sharansky believes that the truest expression of democracy is the ability to stand in the middle of a town square and express one's views without fear of imprisonment. He should know. A dissident in the USSR, Sharansky was jailed for nine years for challenging Soviet policies. During that time he reinforced his moral conviction that democracy is essential to both protecting human rights and maintaining global peace and security.

Sharansky was catapulted onto the Israeli political stage in 1996. In the last eight years, he has served as a minister in four different Israeli cabinets, including a stint as Deputy Prime Minister, playing a key role in government decision making from the peace negotiations at Wye to the war against Palestinian terror. In his views, he has been as consistent as he has been stubborn: Tyranny, whether in the Soviet Union or the Middle East, must always be made to bow before democracy.

Drawing on a lifetime of experience of democracy and its absence, Sharansky believes that only democracy can safeguard the well-being of societies. For Sharansky, when it comes to democracy, politics is not a matter of left and right, but right and wrong.

This is a passionately argued book from a man who carries supreme moral authority to make the case he does here: that the spread of democracy everywhere is not only possible, but also essential to the survival of our civilization. His argument is sure to stir controversy on all sides; this is arguably the great issue of our times.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781586482619
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Publication date:
11/08/2004
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 8.36(h) x 1.11(d)

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The Case For Democracy 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book contains experience, even wisdom, that almost any American peacenik might endorse. A Soviet Jew, Sharansky was refused an exit visa, convicted at age 29 of spying for the US and jailed for nine years. He was released in 1986 after the personal intervention of Ronald Reagan. In Israel, he has held several government ministries. An adamant conservative, he resigned from the Sharon government in disagreement over the Gaza withdrawal. In prison, he wrote, he became truly free his experience parallels Nelson Mandela¿s. There is a tender exchange between Natan and his wife Avital, visiting Moscow¿s Lefortovo prison years after his release. In a solitary cell where he had spent 405 days, he asked ¿Do you recognize the room? You were always in here with me.¿ ¿I know I was.¿ she replied. About a quarter of the book (I didn¿t include it in this review) is a defense of Israel¿s Palestinian policies. Sharansky makes three main points. ¿A society is free if people have a right to express their views without fear.¿ In the Gulag, dissidents disagreed ¿vociferously¿ about what type of free society they wanted, but agreed that the right of open dissent was the essential. At this point (groan), he abruptly shifts his theme from Freedom to Democracy, leaving the reader positively craving some words on the visions of the Gulag inmates. Sharansky tells us that a regime based on fear, like the USSR, must maintain control that ¿inevitably triggers a process of decay.¿ The same is true of Saudi Arabia. (Jonathan Schell, The Unconquerable World, argues along the same lines.) Throughout, Sharansky argues that no society, including Muslim and Arab countries, is incapable of democracy, bolstering that claim with data from the Freedom House think tank (Google them). Interestingly, he is silent on the Iraq war. In the name of stability, he wrote, democracies embrace dictators ¿ a mistake, because the democracy that hates you is a better friend than the tyrant that loves you. Instead, America should ¿link¿ its foreign policy to freedom of dissent in countries where it is lacking. After the first Gulf War, he suggested to the board of ¿one of America¿s most influential newspapers,¿ that America use its leverage to insist that Saudi Arabia accept an opposition newspaper, or remove some of its restrictions on emigration. Good idea. But, he was told, Mideast policy was about stability and oil. References are frustratingly sloppy: a key point from a ¿leading Soviet economist¿ is referenced to a dead-end web page we never learn who he is. The ¿leading American newspaper¿ is not named and a quote from Tony Blair is attributed to George W. Bush. A couple of pages after explaining the inevitability of the Soviet Union¿s collapse, Sharansky writes that the contribution of his friend Ronald Reagan was ¿crucial,¿ thus undermining his primary theme. Sharansky¿s observations rely heavily on experience and personal conviction. He has, after all, paid dues that most of us have not. But, many important observations are supported by scholarly work and field data.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A blueprint for victory in the war against Islamofascism if I ever saw one. In Minister Sharansky's opinion, the world is composed of free societies and fear societies. In a free society, the people have a right to express their thoughts WITHOUT any threat of persecution. In a fear society, this right simply does not exist. This is also a compelling call for moral clarity from all of us, so that President Bush's 'Road Map to Peace' doesn't become Oslo II but rather Helsinki II. Sadly, not enough people are linking international relations with the ideals of liberal democracy, the idea that freedom is the God-given birthright of ALL human peoples. We appease terrorists and dictators at our own peril because they believe that peace and war are interchangeable to enhance their power. The only way to defeat Islamist totalitarians is to extend the United States' international democratic hegemony ALL over the Middle East, certainly starting with Egypt, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. We really don't have anything to fear except fear itself. By maintaining our moral clarity and absolute determination for democratic reform in the Middle East, North Korea, etc., WITHOUT waiting for a response from dictators there, we will gain this inevitable triumph and remove tyranny from this world once and for all, so help us God.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a compelling case how and why freedom and human rights in particular, must be advanced by those who live in free world. I only wish more of the world would follow this blueprint to confront tyranny and evil in this world, for this would surely bring an unprecedented spread of freedom to the parts of the world that have never been free.
Guest More than 1 year ago
An amazing book by Natan Sharansky. You will love it. It gives you an idea of how the world operates, of the way dictatorial societies think not only about themselves, but also about the free world. And then, one gets a point of view of how to deal with terror and dictatorships in order to have peace and security.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Natan Sharansky starts by describing the three sources of power, which he discovered in his non-violent struggle to promote human rights within the former Soviet Union and the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel (pp. xi, 108-112). At the bottom of the pyramid are the men and women, who have the privilege to live free in a democratic society. In the middle are their leaders who unlike dictators ultimately depend on the popular will to be voted in or out of power through periodical, free elections (pp. 74, 78-81, 160). At the top of the structure is the commonwealth of free societies, which represents the free world. Sharansky rightly reminds his readers that many people who have never lived in a fear society, take for granted what is at best a distant dream in many dictatorships (p. xiii). In a free society, the key challenge is acquiring the moral clarity to identify evil (p. xxii). The respect for the right of dissent, which is more important than its content, is one of the key ingredients of a well-oiled democratic society. People can eventually lose sight of what unites them by comparing their fellow citizens, who do not share their convictions, with the henchmen of fear societies and by sympathizing with dictators (pp. xiii, 193-226). In a fear society, the courage to dissent is the first human quality to confront evil, which guarantees all others (pp. xxii, 11). Fear societies ultimately sap themselves by investing much energy to keep true believers happy, turn apparently loyal double-thinkers into reliable subjects and crush dissent (pp. 8-9, 39-64, 102-105, 132). Sharansky deplores that in the name of the status quo, the struggle for peace and security in the world is rarely associated with the promotion of democracy (pp. xix, 3). Rhetoric of the free world too often falls short in practice in the name of realism (pp. xxi, 67-71, 232-265). The realpolitik is based on strategic interests alone and excludes any move towards moral considerations (pp. 69-70, 80). In the free world, the realists consider the champions of exporting democracy elsewhere, at best naïve and at worst dangerous (pp. 15, 19, 68, 70). The usual reasons given for excusing détente are: 1) A suspected lack of enthusiasm for democracy in certain cultures and civilizations, 2) the apparent predictability of fear societies that unlike democracies do not unleash chaos and instability, and 3) the little leverage that the free world seems to have for facilitating change in fear societies (pp. 5-6, 14-17, 26-37, 62-70, 92-95, 107-108, 143, 154, 163-164, 269-271, 277). Unfortunately, supporting fear societies today in the name of stability will often be rewarded with blood and tears tomorrow as 9/11 and other past events have clearly demonstrated (pp. 14, 92-95, 107, 152, 167). One of the key techniques that the fear society uses to keep itself in power is to export terror outwards by creating external enemies and disguising its domestic failures in the process (pp. 14, 82-88, 191-192). Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Iraq under Saddam Hussein and Afghanistan under the deposed Talibans are just a few examples in the recent history of humanity (pp. 21, 24-26, 68-69). Sharansky wants to convince his audience that what was done previously could be replicated to democratize and liberalize the Middle East (pp. 4, 13, 154, 188-189, 279). President Ronald Reagan and Senator Henry Jackson believed that the deliquescence of the crumbling Soviet tyranny could be accelerated through a confrontational approach instead of seeking accommodation with 'moderate' non-democratic regimes (pp. 5, 9, 11-12, 19). Jackson and Reagan were convinced that the people behind the Iron Curtain could one day enjoy freedom as much as their counterparts in the free world. Unlike their predecessors who linked their countries' foreign policies to a fear society's international conduct, Reagan and Jackson would link America's policies to the Soviet's domestic conduc
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book will demonstarte the true importance of democroacy, and why we need it today for worl peace. What I enjoyed most was that it was written by a person who expirenced communism and democracy. You can see and feel that its not just theoretical but applied.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Natan Sharansky's book , 'The Case for Democracy' is an ingeniously written work that can be used as a manifesto on foreign policy by the USA and the rest of the western democracies. He succinctly made a strong case for democracy in this book and also stresses on the fact that liberty abroad and home security are intricately linked. It goes to support the long held view that there can be no peace and justice without democracy. This is best explained by the fact that as liberal democracy is spread all around the world as desired by the people, the oppressed people in those countries turn to feel liberated and with that goes individual and collective efforts that not only improves their standards of living , but also improves worldwide security. The author holds that the link between foreign policy and human right is paramount for security. This belief is illustrated in his pyramid of the three sources of power. At the bottom of the pyramid are the ordinary people who are privileged to live in a free and democratic society. In the middle are their leaders who are voted in or out of power through free elections that are held over certain periods of time. At the top of the pyramid is to be found the society or commonwealth of free nations where liberty, freedom and development reigns. Consensus holds the free societies together, through the recognition of the right to dissent. But then the free societies also need the moral clarity to identify evil . Sharansky explained that the courage to dissent is the first human quality to confront evil in a fear society. While fear societies are unsustainable, the practice of 'realpolitik' and maintaining the 'status quo' that focuses on strategic interest alone without moral obligations tend to breathe more air into the lives of fear societies. Free societies make little effort to press for democracy in the fear societies because of excuses that: some cultures and civilizations lack the enthusiasm for democracy, chaos and instability may result from the transition, and not enough strings are there to make the fear societies to change. Madness! Sharansky made the effort to link foreign policy with respect for human rights, a course that is considered as unavoidable to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to establish a democratic Palestinian state. In this era where fear societies such as in Cameroon, Togo, Congo , Sudan and other African countries as well as in Burma, Syria, North Korea etc are being allowed to take their people into abyss, while the free societies refrain from intervening as a result of personal interest or fear for instability, the world will only be rewarded with more blood and tears tomorrow. We have to take the lessons of as 9/11 and other past events. Today Afghanistan has a future as a free society.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Natan Sharansky's book , 'The Case for Democracy' is an ingeniously written work that can be used as a manifesto on foreign policy by the USA and the rest of the western democracies. He succinctly made a strong case for democracy in this book and also stresses on the fact that liberty abroad and home security are intricately linked. It goes to support the long held view that there can be no peace and justice without democracy. This is best explained by the fact that as liberal democracy is spread all around the world as desired by the people, the oppressed people in those countries turn to feel liberated and with that goes individual and collective efforts that not only improves their standards of living , but also improves worldwide security. The author holds that the link between foreign policy and human right is paramount for security. This belief is illustrated in his pyramid of the three sources of power. At the bottom of the pyramid are the ordinary people who are privileged to live in a free and democratic society. In the middle are their leaders who are voted in or out of power through free elections that are held over certain periods of time. At the top of the pyramid is to be found the society or commonwealth of free nations where liberty, freedom and development reigns. Consensus holds the free societies together, through the recognition of the right to dissent. But then the free societies also need the moral clarity to identify evil . Sharansky explained that the courage to dissent is the first human quality to confront evil in a fear society. While fear societies are unsustainable, the practice of ¿realpolitik¿ and maintaining the ¿status quo¿ that focuses on strategic interest alone without moral obligations tend to breathe more air into the lives of fear societies. Free societies make little effort to press for democracy in the fear societies because of excuses that: some cultures and civilizations lack the enthusiasm for democracy, chaos and instability may result from the transition, and not enough strings are there to make the fear societies to change. Madness! Sharansky made the effort to link foreign policy with respect for human rights, a course that is considered as unavoidable to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to establish a democratic Palestinian state. In this era where fear societies such as in Cameroon, Togo, Congo , Sudan and other African countries as well as in Burma, Syria, North Korea etc are being allowed to take their people into abyss, while the free societies refrain from intervening as a result of personal interest or fear for instability, the world will only be rewarded with more blood and tears tomorrow. We have to take the lessons of as 9/11 and other past events. Today Afghanistan has a future as a free society.
Guest More than 1 year ago
All we need is a few good men to make this a great nation once again. Unlike the other side, we need to keep telling the good side of America and it's people and to keep pushing on to get this thru to the people of America. We can't lose, except we give in to those few that want to keep us down. Terror is one word I refuse to accept. We can not be afraid of evil. We have to face it full force, with all the strength and power we were given when this country was founded.