Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Democracy 'Reset'

Wall Street Journal
August 4, 2010

After Russian police in Moscow this weekend made headlines by beating up and arresting pro-democracy demonstrators, the Obama White House expressed its "concern." It was a pretty good statement. Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain issued a similar statement, but the vocabulary was more robust.

"It is tragic," said Senator McCain, "that the criminalization of political discourse, and the enforcement of it through violence, continues today in modern Russia. The brutal crackdown this weekend makes clear that there has been no 'reset' of how the Russian government treats its own most loyal champions of human rights."

The distinction matters.

In a world in which authoritarianism is rising in many places to endanger democracy, which side Washington is on has become an open question. To date, the Obama Administration's stance may be charitably described as confused.