George W. Bush's attempt to spread democracy across the world has been a failure. Besides a few notable exceptions, democracy has not been on the march for the past eight years. Afghanistan is a total mess. After several years, thousands dead, millions displaced, and a trillion dollars spent, Iraq is emerging as a very fragile democracy. At this rate we would need to spend , quadrillion dollars on continuous war to make the whole world free by 2418.
It is not the product which is flawed but the marketing. George W. Bush was never a good poster child for democracy. He became president despite not receiving the most votes. His first election was mired in controversy and was decided eventually be the Supreme Court. He is a child of privilege and the son of a former president. He is an example of the worst trends of nepotism which have infected our democracy. Most devastatingly, he managed to taint his efforts to spread freedom with unnecessary and unprovoked war.
Barack Obama is quite possibly the best advertisement for American-style democracy around the world. He was raised by a single mother and climbed to success by his own talents. He is the ultimate self made man. Not only is he the first minority president, but he also has a personal understanding of the third world. His father was from Kenya, and he spent some of his childhood living in Indonesia. He won a landslide election with a campaign of lofty rhetoric instead of divisive wedge issues.
Obama shatters the image that America is simply the byproduct of a white vs brown colonialism. He is now uniquely positioned to promote freedom through soft and hard power. He should use his power to prop up new and struggling democracies instead of attempting to overthrow despots. He could try the bold and novel move to increase democracy around the globe. Most importantly, he needs to remember that new and weak democracies are like alcoholics: you can't help them unless they want to be helped.