What Ross and Daniel Larison say about Robert Kagan’s observations on the alleged “resilience” of autocracy in Venezuela and Russia. That leaves the case of China, where both important elements of the neoconservative right (à la Kagan) and of the labor-liberal left (à la several of my old editors at The American Prospect) would like us to believe that the links between globalization, the market economy, political liberalization, and human freedom have all been broken.
The trouble here is that I’ve rarely if ever heard from a Chinese person or a person who lives in China anything other than that China is, in fact, freer than it was twenty years ago. Is that in large part a reflection of how bad things used to be? Sure. Does that make China a liberal democracy? Of course not. But are things moving in a positive direction? Yes.
The unfortunate reality for those like Kagan who’d like to believe that an incredibly aggressive, violent, coercion-oriented US foreign policy is the height of moral probity is that living conditions around the world are, in general, improving for the better without us. There are major exceptions in Sub-Saharan Africa and North Korea but there’s nothing about a glance at those places — Iraq, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories — that have benefitted from American “democracy promotion” policy that would make any sane person think we need to Kaganize our approach to Russia or China.