Democracy and the Rule of Law

Jim Woolsey: I guess I would say that I still think the spread of the rule of law and democracy, probably in that order because states like Bahrain who do a pretty good rule of the law that aren’t democracies yet, are pretty stable places. If there is some way people can feel confident that the U.S. can continue what it has done successfully with our allies since from 1945 up to very recently, to spread the rule of law in democracy into the parts of the world like central Asia and the Arab world, which don’t really . . . and parts of Africa that don’t have it now, that would be a huge contribution. I think we’ll be able to do that a lot faster and a lot better if we break oil’s role as a strategic commodity, because it’s that link between dictatorship or autocracy on the one hand, and living on economic rent that is a big part of the problem. Bernard Lewis says of course there should be no taxation without representation, but everybody needs to understand that there’s no representation without taxation. Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a legislature. It doesn’t need one. It doesn’t need to tax anybody. It uses oil. So without a legislature, without needing a legislature, autocracies tend not to set them up. (Laughter) They leave well enough alone and rule. And it’s that single man or single group rule unconstrained that leads to the problems we’re having with Putin, and Chavez, and … and the rest. Democracies aren’t perfect. They make mistakes. They can fall apart and disintegrate into dictatorships like Germany did in 1933. Nothing is for sure, but on the whole they don’t fight each other. They fight dictatorships.

Recorded on: 7/6/2007 

Jim Woolsey talks about the need to develop democracy and the rule of law across beyond the Western world.

Related Articles
Playlists
Keep reading Show less

Five foods that increase your psychological well-being

These five main food groups are important for your brain's health and likely to boost the production of feel-good chemicals.

Mind & Brain

We all know eating “healthy” food is good for our physical health and can decrease our risk of developing diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. What is not as well known is that eating healthy food is also good for our mental health and can decrease our risk of depression and anxiety.

Keep reading Show less

For the 99%, the lines are getting blurry

Infographics show the classes and anxieties in the supposedly classless U.S. economy.

What is the middle class now, anyway? (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs

For those of us who follow politics, we’re used to commentators referring to the President’s low approval rating as a surprise given the U.S.'s “booming” economy. This seeming disconnect, however, should really prompt us to reconsider the measurements by which we assess the health of an economy. With a robust U.S. stock market and GDP and low unemployment figures, it’s easy to see why some think all is well. But looking at real U.S. wages, which have remained stagnant—and have, thus, in effect gone down given rising costs from inflation—a very different picture emerges. For the 1%, the economy is booming. For the rest of us, it’s hard to even know where we stand. A recent study by Porch (a home-improvement company) of blue-collar vs. white-collar workers shows how traditional categories are becoming less distinct—the study references "new-collar" workers, who require technical certifications but not college degrees. And a set of recent infographics from CreditLoan capturing the thoughts of America’s middle class as defined by the Pew Research Center shows how confused we are.

Keep reading Show less