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Saturday, January 22

Bush Democracy Doctrine, simply explained

"Dear Pundita, I liked Bush's speech at the inaugural but I'm a little confused by it. I wonder if he's talking in general terms and how he intends to implement the ideas, which are very ambitious. Also, didn't you love the white coat Laura wore for the inaugural?"
[Signed] Claudia in Taos

Dear Claudia:

There is no mystery about the Democracy Doctrine; the ideas Bush sketched in his inaugural speech are already in effect although it's early days. His remarks are confusing only if you depend on secondary sources for understanding. If you go to the White House website and study the Millennium Challenge Account and the No Child Left Behind Act, you won't be confused.

You'll see that the ideas expressed in the inaugural speech reflect a typically Bushian approach to solving a systemic problem. The Democracy Doctrine is strong on accountability, standards setting, achievement tests. and performance review. It's results oriented.

In fact, Bush could make this easy for the commentariat if he directed them to study his No Child Left Behind Act. If you substitute "tyrant" for child and make a few other simple word substitutes, you're an instant expert on the Bush Democracy Doctrine. Let's try it with the first portion of the executive summary, with the substitutions shown in boldface:

As the world enters the 21st Century full of hope and promise, too many of our tyrants are being left behind. Today, nearly 100 percent of the world's tyrants are unable to understand democracy ....

Although education is primarily a state and local responsibility, democratic governments are partly at fault for tolerating these abysmal results. Democratic governments currently do not do enough to reward success and sanction failure in our education system

Over the decades the American government and other governments in developed countries have created thousands of programs intended to address problems in tyrant education without asking whether or not the programs produce results or knowing their impact on local needs.

This "program for every problem" solution has begun to add up -- so much so that there are thousands of aid/low-cost loan programs spread across God Only Knows how many agencies at a cost of billions of US dollars a year.

Yet, after spending trillions and probably even zillions of dollars on tyrant education, we have fallen short in meeting our goals for educational excellence. The academic achievement gap between tyrants and elected leaders is not only wide, but in some cases is growing wider still.

In reaction to these disappointing results, some have decided that there should be no direct involvement in democracy education for tyrants . Others suggest we merely add new programs into the old system. Surely, there must be another way, a way that points to a more effective developed world role.

The priorities that follow are based on the fundamental notion that an enterprise works best when responsibility is placed closest to the most important activity of the enterprise, when those responsible are given greatest latitude and support, and when those responsible are held accountable for producing results. This education blueprint will:

--Increase Accountability for Tyrant Performance:

Tyrants who improve achievement in democracy measures will be rewarded. Failure will be sanctioned. American agencies/foreign policy instruments will know how well the tyrant is learning and that they are held accountable for their effectiveness with annual assessments.

--Focus on What Works:

US tax dollars will be spent on effective, research-based programs and practices. Funds will be targeted to improve tyrant education and enhance teacher quality.

--Reduce Bureaucracy and Increase Flexibility:

Additional flexibility will be provided to American agencies, and flexible funding will be increased at the local level.

--Empower Governments of the Developed World:

Said governments will have more information about the quality of the tyrant's schooling in democracy. Tyrants in persistently low-performing schools will be given choice.

At this point the Bush Democracy Doctrine diverges from the No Child Left Behind Act. Lagging tyrants will not be given the same choice that say, sixth graders receive if they don't buckle down to math. But as you can see there is no mystery about how the doctrine is to work out in practice.

Will the No Tyrant Left Behind initiative work? Of course. Mortals can't rid the world of evil but we can rectify mistakes that set the modern world's tyrants in place and keep them in place. Today's batch are not conquerors. And almost none are products of real revolution or internal coup. The majority came to power on the back of skimmed aid/loan money from the big Western nations and/or big-nation machinations.

So today's batch are as much Frankensteins as tyrants. Today's tyrants didn't get to be tyrants without a lot of help from the world's most powerful countries, including the USA. So the Bush doctrine is aimed as much at NATO countries and China and Russia as at Iran, North Korea, and Syria.

I interject that's why I made such a fuss about the US machinations in Ukraine, which began before Bush came to office. If we want other governments to get serious about the Democracy Doctrine, US foreign policy must strive hard to keep its hem clean. Things we could get away with during the Cold War--no more, if we want other governments to raise their bar.

However, if you substitute "developed world governments" for the public school system, you can understand why several countries (and even some representatives of the American government) are putting up so much resistance to Bush's doctrine. They've had pretty much the same reaction as public school administrators on first hearing about the No Child Left Behind Act. These governments aren't used to being held accountable in their dealings with despots.

However, if the NATO "school system" cranked out tinhorn despots who refused to democratize their countries, that's a measure of how much the world's most powerful governments have held themselves to account, in their dealings with despots. So we all need to improve our performance.

Blaming only the tyrants is akin to blaming only the child, if he graduates high school unable to spell cat. The question is how he got that far, after generations of adults poured billions into the school system that was supposed to educate him to deal with the modern world.

Laura's inaugural coat and the matching suit are to die for. Pundita wants the knockoffs as soon as they're available.
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