The Risks and Rewards of Pursuing a Good Idea
McClelland & Stewart, Hardcover, 9780771072895, 288pp.
Publication Date: November 2, 2010
The way most Western politicians talk, democracy is the pinnacle of civilization, the best political system there is. Many think it's the system the rest of the world ought to adopt. Bob Rae is not one of them. He is too well informed about the difficulties and dangers of implanting democracy in foreign lands. Exporting Democracy is an eloquently argued book in which Rae brings his lively, nuanced understanding to bear on the history and current fortunes of this powerful idea. He shows how it and the related ideas of freedom, human rights, and federalism have been pushed to centre stage by the collapse of Soviet communism and by ongoing wars to topple secular and religious dictatorships in the Middle East. He's also witnessed attempts to implant democracy in three countries riven by tribal and ethnic divisions, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka, and offers readers a cool appraisal of the effort.
A former Rhodes Scholar, BOB RAE was born in Ottawa in 1948. A leading politician of his generation, he has been elected to federal and provincial parliaments eight times and served as Ontario's twenty-first premier in the early 1990s. In 1999, he helped found the international Forum of Federations and served as its chair for seven years. He has advised and worked on federalism and constitutional matters in Sri Lanka, Sudan and Iraq. Since 2006, Rae has been a prominent member of the federal Liberal Party. He is the party's foreign affairs critic, and is the author of three previous books.
"Widely read and richly experienced in the art of politics, Bob Rae puts all he has learned to excellent use in this humane, thoughtful -- and highly readable -- book on the perils and possibilities of exporting democracy. . . . Altogether, a splendid read!"
— David Cameron
"In this erudite, judicious and lively book. . . . Rae offers a wise and compelling alternative vision."
— Globe and Mail