The little-noticed legislation passed the House a week ago today as part of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act by a vote of 351-78. Mr. Lantos last week told the Sun that the bill "puts the meat on the bones of the president's second inaugural address." In that speech, President Bush said, "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."Note the vote. Better than 4 to 1 in favor. Also note that Tom Lantos is a Democrat and is the Ranking Democratic member of the House International Relations Committee. He was the founder in 1983 of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, and is still its Co-Chairman. Not only that but he survived the Nazis. He is an American by choice.
The bill would allow the State Department to "use all instruments of United States influence to support, promote, and strengthen democratic principles, practices, and values in foreign countries." It charges the CIA and Treasury Department with tracking the personal assets of dictators and their associates.
I wonder if the Dems would consider running him for President? Did I mention that he was a Professor of Economics for 30 years? Too bad he has the Schwarzenegger problem: not born in this country.
In any case I can't wait to see the Kos guys howling at Bush for some failing in implimenting the policy. The universe is never good enough for them. I wonder if they will complain about Lantos. Not left enough probably.
The other interesting thing about this is that it is a national commitment by the Congress endorsing Bush's grand strategy for the war. This vote is equivalent to the time when containment of the Soviet Union as enunciated by George Keenan became American Policy endorsed by Democrats and Republicans and followed with varying degrees of fidelity by every President from the time the policy was adopted (around 1948) until the end of the Soviet Union in the 1988 to 1991 period.
This is a historic vote and almost unnoticed. The New York Sun did run a piece on this on the 27th of July. Otherwise I can't find much else on it except from the blogs. If you want to look deeper into it a helpful search term is "ADVANCE Democracy Act".
Update: 07:44z 31 Jul 2005
The Heritage Foundation says:
A Dose of Realism NeededWell DUH. They want more nuance in the categories of nations: free, partially free, unfree. OK. Three categories or five, as long as it is not seven or fifteen. They have a few other complaints as well. Still, as an ambitious policy that can guide America for the next fifty or one hundred years, I like it.
The Heritage article from April 8 gives the following bill numbers: S. 516 and H.R. 1133 for the "ADVANCE Democracy Act". Things may have changed since then.
Update: 07:59z 31 Jul 2005
A good resource is this article by Ambassador Mark Palmer The Real Axis of Evil: Removing the World's Dictators Through Diplomacy
The 21st century, it seems to me, offers two scenarios to us as we stand here to-day. One of those is with dictators—either with the current crop that we have, or even more; and the other scenario is a world without dictators. The 20th century taught us very clearly what a world with dictators can be like. It was the bloodiest of all centuries, and it was the bloodiest of all centuries because of dictators—because of Hitler and Stalin and Mao. It was bloody not only because of the wars; it was bloody because of democide—because of the number of people that these dictators killed inside their own country—169 million. They killed more of their own citizens than foreigners.There is much more. I don't agree with it all but it does represent a source document. Or you can read his book on the subject: "Breaking the Real Axis of Evil".
Update: 09:13z 31 Jul 2005
The great Claudia Rosett reviews "Breaking the Real Axis of Evil" in the Wall Street Journal of 16 Dec 2003.