I had a number of issues with Dr. Robert J. Bunker's latest piece in Small Wars Journal, in which he proposes that the United States abandon its realpolitik policies, and unequivocally advocate democratic revolution. I won't recount all of my concerns--that's what the SWJ message board is for--but I was somewhat dismayed by Dr. Bunker's misuse of historical anecdote:
Support of the despotic status quo in the Islamic World is not only morally unacceptable but, more importantly for many of the Small Wars Journal readership, no longer rational from the perspective of realpolitik and purely selfish U.S. interests at home and abroad...
...If nascent and fledgling democracies attempt to arise and, rather than giving them our helping hand, we turn our back on them or worse crush their efforts by backing the corrupt despots they seek to replace, it would set a dangerous precedent for the future. Those democracies will owe us nothing, potentially harbor very strong feelings of animosity, and ultimately may turn their back upon us in our future times of need. Just deeds often reap future dividends—as an American Army officer serving in France during World War I imparted in his utterance, “La Fayette, we are here!”
An interesting story, but grossly misleading. France did not assist the fledgling colonies during the American Revolution out of shared democratic ideals--the French Revolution was still a few decades away. Rather, the French aided one of the greatest democratic revolutions in history as a result of precisely the very realpolitik Dr. Bunker decries. By fueling a large-scale guerrilla war far from the British mainland, as well as by judiciously allying herself with Britain's strategic rivals, France was able to tie up tens of thousands of troops in the American colonies for over a decade. Thus, a fortune was siphoned off from the British treasury, eventually resulting in the humiliating loss of the American colonies. One can hardly call Louis XVI a champion of democracy.