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Is democracy overrated?

Pat Buchanan's latest. Boy, he knows his history:

With the disintegration of the Soviet Empire and the Soviet Union, and Beijing's abandonment of Maoism, anti-communism necessarily ceased to be the polestar of U.S. foreign policy.

For many, our triumph fairly cried out for a bottom-up review of all the alliances created to fight that Cold War and a return to a policy of non-intervention in foreign quarrels where no vital U.S. interest was imperiled.

This was dismissed as isolationism. Seeking some new cause to give meaning to their lives, our suddenly superfluous foreign policy elites settled upon a crusade for democracy as America's new mission in the world.

Interventions in Panama, Somalia, Haiti and Bosnia followed, plus wars in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. To further advance the great goal, the National Endowment for Democracy and agencies like Freedom House set out to subvert authoritarian regimes in Belgrade, Caracas, Kiev, Tbilisi, Beirut and Bishkek.

Cold War methods and means were now to be conscripted -- for democratic ends.

Yet, considering the high cost in blood, money and lost leadership and prestige since our victory in the Cold War, the democracy crusade scarcely seems worth it. For while we have been bogged down in two wars, China has become the world's leading manufacturer, steelmaker, auto producer and exporter, and the second largest economy on earth.

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