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Comment (June 1, 2004)

Comments on Gregory Clark's Article "Iraq and the End of History"

Jon Courtney (University of Southern California)

I would like to respond to the article titled "Iraq and the end of history" ( by Gregory Clark. Mr. Clark chooses to challenge democracy as an ideal political structure lacking longevity and suffering from terminal hypocrisy. He cites recent prisoner abuse, an arguably unjust war in Iraq, legalism, Christian fundamentalism, and a flawed electoral process as the poisons of this political system.

If a system of equality, freedom, and power of the people is not the ideal system, then what is? Every reason cited above is a valid problem that has been addressed as needing reform and attention by the populace and thus is being addressed by our elected leaders. A political system, policy, or idea should not be defined nor dismissed merely because of the presence of injustice, but must be judged by the manor in which justice is enforced. This was the genius and farsightedness our Founding Father possessed and which appears Mr. Clark does recognize. United States democracy is not and will never be a perfect system, but it is dynamic and painfully slow. No single person or sphere of influence can poison our great nation because our convictions persist well beyond any elected politician's term or span of life.

Mr. Clark argues that Anglo-Saxon democracies, specifically the U.S., Britain, and Australia, have developed rapidly and successfully from the benefit of a "'radius of trust'" developed by philosopher Lawrence Harrison, and reinterpreted by Fukuyama. He also reasons that this will lead to our demise as this "personalist togetherness begins to disintegrate." I would like to offer an alternative and much more accurate analysis of the birth and growth of the U.S. both politically and economically. Our success was born not of our trust, togetherness, or cooperation, but of our fear. From our Founding Fathers through every political and social leader to today U.S. democracy was built on fear and distrust of ones government, church, neighbor, employer, and coworker. Our entire legal and political system is rooted in distrust and fear of a single individual or branch of government. We begrudgingly sacrifice efficiency by not even allowing a national unified police force.

In conclusion I would like to address Mr. Clark's criticism of our apparent abuses of power and "clumsy deviousness of (our) foreign policies and the brutality of (our) soldiers abroad. I would dare not begin to compare résumé's of brutality with that of the U.S. In all of history show me one civilization that has had the means, motive, and opportunity to rule the entire world or impose its rule indiscriminately for its own singular benefit, and has not acted. Show me that, and I will show you the United States of America.

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