Monday, May 30, 2005

Democracy in Asia

Francis Fukuyama (author of The End of History and the Last Man) credits Ronald Reagan (?!) for the now-blooming democracy in Asia:

This democratic revolution was helped along by a critical shift in American policy that occurred during the Reagan years, when the U.S. moved away from a "realist" policy of support for friendly dictators towards encouragement of democratic transition. This began in 1986, when Benigno Aquino's assassination three years earlier provoked the "people power" revolution that eventually brought Corazon Aquino to power as a democratically elected president of the Philippines. Paul Wolfowitz (who will soon become president of the World Bank and was at that time assistant secretary of state for East Asia), together with his boss George Shultz, played a key role in gently persuading President Reagan to give up on the dictator Ferdinand Marcos and take the risks of a plunge into democracy.

The following year, President Reagan quietly but firmly urged General Roh Tae-woo to support the establishment of democratic institutions when popular protests against military dictatorship in South Korea spread. This contrasts sharply with U.S. behavior seven years earlier, when Washington stood aside as General Chun Doo-hwan staged a bloody crackdown on demonstrators in Kwangju. The U.S. looked on favorably as well when Taiwan's ruler, Chiang Ching-kuo, prepared his country for a political opening in 1988 and was succeeded by the democratically elected Lee Teng-hui.

Everywhere but in Zia's Pakistan, eh?!

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