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American Democracy

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To the Editor:

I share Joshua Muravchik’s perception that world history is at a crossroads [“Losing the Peace,” July], but question the relative importance of foreign aid in determining which way it will go. Perhaps democracy abroad would be better served in the long run if we turned inward to tackle the grave problems of American democracy, which are the real, ultimate threat to global democratization.

From the beginning, the entire world march to democracy was based on the perception that, in the words of James Baker, “freedom works” whereas authoritarianism does not. Foreigners everywhere look upon our prosperity as confirmation of this. But our “prosperity” is illusory and our democracy has not been working well. Mr. Muravchik’s assertion that our standard of living is two-and-a-half times what it was in 1948 ignores the vast accumulation of debt at all levels. How prosperous would the U.S. be if the $4-trillion national debt had to be paid now, in addition to private debt?

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