With the end of the Cold War, a number of policymakers in the West fell prey to a seductive belief in the "end of history" — the notion, first proposed by Francis Fukuyama, that western liberal democracy has decisively triumphed over every other form of government. Yet the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century have proven over and over that this belief was not just mistaken, but dangerously so.
As political forms go, democracy is fairly straightforward. Direct democracy, as practiced by ancient Athenians, decided on the issues. As polities became bigger and populations more numerous, in its modern form democracy became representative: the voting populace would elect representatives from the ballot, and whoever won the most votes would form a government. That government has to follow through on its electoral promises, or be thrown out of power in the next cycle in favor of someone else — in theory, anyway.
The modern West has elevated democracy from a simple method of decision-making into an arcane form of political religion. Yet, ironically, it was the West that undermined that concept of "democracy" the most.
Vote Till You Get It Right
During the Cold War, the U.S. would often use force or proxies to overthrow democratically elected governments — e.g. in Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Chile. In Iran, the CIA was behind the 1953 coup that deposed the popular Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh and restored the autocratic Shah; the resulting anti-American sentiment was used by the Islamic regime that came to power in 1979, and the animosity has been mutual ever since.
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