The US Secretary of State spoke at the Community of Democracies ministerial meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania, this week. The main point of her address was that developed democracies should provide support for developing ones.
The Community of Democracies was founded at the initiative of the United States in 1999. It is based on the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and it unites democracies and democratizing countries with a stated commitment to strengthening democratic norms.
The conference in Vilnius took place amid the continuing unrest in countries of North Africa and the Middle East, which are witnessing a dramatic change of old bureaucratic regimes for new governments, professing human rights and democratic values.
As she addressed the Community of Democracies ministerial meeting, Hillary Clinton admitted that the United States was unprepared for revolutionary changes in Arab countries. The success of revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia depended on coordinated efforts from civil activists who stayed in touch via the Internet. The US, Mrs.Clinton said, should assist in training activists well-versed in IT and capable of resisting the governments’ efforts to stifle communication via social networking sites. For now, Mrs.Clinton says, changes in North Africa and the Middle East are shaky and may crumble.
But there is a clear discrepancy between Mrs.Clinton’s words and the reality. NATO’s military intervention in Libya can hardly be described as democracy-building efforts. Political analyst Leonid Polyakov has this to say.
"Hillary Clinton simply passed the position of the US administration and the US establishment which see democratic processes across the world as a target. As a result, they invaded sovereign countries, such as Iraq, Yugoslavia, and now Libya. Democracy is the power of people. It is not imposed from outside."
Instead of encouraging a domestic dialogue, coalition countries embarked on eliminating Gaddafi. NATO bombardments will do little to secure the formation of a civil society in Libya. And it looks like Syria is going to be next. Otherwise, the recent reports saying that President Bashar al-Assad has drained his potential as the country’s leader would make no sense. Russia is exerting maximum efforts to secure dialogue within Libya which would be much more effective for introducing democracy than outside pressure. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke to this effect over the week.
"In any conflict settlement, options for dialogue should be kept open. Russia is guided by this principle with regards to Libya, and will do the same regarding Syria. But first and foremost, all parties involved, particularly the opposition, should be compelled to dialogue and made to give up on all kinds of provocations which would encourage the world community to step in and use force."
Hillary Clinton is playing honest in her attempts to defend the principles of US democracy. But these principles are not universal. Present-day society is multifaceted and civil society principles in the West alone differ greatly.