Technology: Vehicle of Liberty

Austin Bay has offered perhaps the most pragmatic reason for heeding the President’s call to spread freedom. Bay writes :

Idealism, however, isn’t the sole spine of “the democracy strategy.” The strategy seeks to address a very concrete issue: technological compression. Technological compression is a fact of 21st century existence — and it is the superglue now bonding American foreign policy idealism (promoting democracy) and foreign policy pragmatism (survival via realpolitik).

An article of mine in The Weekly Standard’s Jan. 3, 2005, issue frames it this way: “Technology has compressed the planet, with positive effects in communication, trade and transportation; with horrifyingly negative effects in weaponry. Decades ago, radio, phone cables on the seabed, long-range aircraft and then nuclear weapons shrunk the oceans. Sept. 11 demonstrated that religious killers could turn domestic jumbo jets into strategic bombers — and the oceans were no obstacles. ‘Technological compression’ is a fact; it cannot be reversed. To deny it or ignore it has deadly consequences.”

Translation: There is no “over there.” Everybody lives next door. All local gossip can become international rumor in an instant. With weapons of mass destruction in the mix — particularly if biological or nuclear weapons are employed — a tribal war in Saudi Arabia or a border firefight in Asia can rapidly escalate to global disaster. . .

Sept. 11 demonstrated that we cannot tolerate the wicked linkage of terrorists, rogue states and weapons of mass destruction. Terrorists plus rogue states plus weapons of mass destruction: That’s the formula for hell in the 21st century. Rogue states are inevitably undemocratic, authoritarian states — typically secular or religious tyrannies.

Given modern technology and the role tyrannical states play in facilitating or exporting terror, a democratic offensive against tyranny is realpolitik. The explicit American goal is to advance free states where the consent of the governed creates legitimacy and where terrorists are prosecuted, not promoted. (via Instapundit)

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