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.

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