Olasky provocatively raises the issue of Pakistan–where both democracy and liberty are in short supply:
“Pro-American dictator or anti-American democracy? That’s the choice in Pakistan now, where President (and top general) Pervez Musharraf has suspended his country’s constitution, fired the country’s chief justice, and shut down nongovernmental television stations. He said that had he not acted, Islamist extremists would have taken over the country.”
Olasky suggests that the U.S. finds itself in this position because it prioritized the advocacy of democracy over the advocacy of liberty. He explains that lack of liberty has had devastating effects for Muslim nations:
“Lack of liberty within Islam contributed to its centuries of decline in many ways. The Ottoman Empire banned printing presses for Muslims in 1485, which meant that many in Europe enjoyed a knowledge explosion and many Muslims did not. Ever since then Islam has been on a geopolitical losing streak. Now, the 57 majority-Muslim countries contain 1.4 billion people, but half of them are illiterate. Those countries contain 57 universities, compared to 5,000-plus in the United States. Western nations spend 5 percent of their GDP on producing knowledge, Muslim countries 0.2 percent.”
And Pakistan is another casualty. Olasky argues that U.S. foreign policy must include the passionate promotion of religious and intellectual liberty, because mere democracy apart from genuine freedom will nevertheless breed economic stagnation and the exportation of hostility.
Read the whole thing. (You may need to have a World magazine subscription — which is well worth it.)