Regime Change You Can Believe in; Mideast Turmoil Underlines Vast Difference between Democracy and Republic

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 6, 2011 | Go to article overview
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Regime Change You Can Believe in; Mideast Turmoil Underlines Vast Difference between Democracy and Republic


Byline: C. David Corbin and Matthew T. Parks, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

According to Defense Sec- retary Robert M. Gates, regime change in Libya is a political - but not military - goal of the Obama administration. As much as there is to criticize in that confused distinction, the deeper problem with the administration's approach to the Middle East is its confusion over what should follow regime change. A fixation on merely elected leadership or government by self-proclaimed people's champions ignores important lessons from our own history.

Entering office under the threat of civil war, Abraham Lincoln was prepared to do anything to keep the country together so long as the union he wished to save remained worthy of being saved. The Declaration of Independence had committed the United States to the cause of equal liberty, charging the new government of the independent states - even before it was formed - with the duty to protect the God-given natural rights of all Americans.

In one speech, Lincoln told his audience that if the only way to save the union was to give that up, he would rather be assassinated on this spot. Lincoln had no desire to live to see a United States that had repudiated the principle that, so long as she championed it and demonstrated its power, gave hope to the world for all future time. That hope was not found simply in democracy, but rather in the sort of republic described by James Madison in Federalist 10 and established by the Founders in the Constitution - one best able to secure the rights of all because it places both moral and institutional restraints on the majority.

Ironically, while the U.S. Constitution is the longest-lasting and most successful written constitution in the world, it is also perhaps the least imitated. Even when the United States has been able to have a heavy influence on the constitution of a conquered nation, as in Japan after World War II or, more recently, in Iraq, it has proposed parliamentary models closer to the English institutions we rebelled against than the form our nation's Founders judged, in the words of the Declaration, most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

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Regime Change You Can Believe in; Mideast Turmoil Underlines Vast Difference between Democracy and Republic
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