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Mistaken ‘export of democracy’ concept described as cause of US failure in Afghanistan

August 26th, 2021

A prominent government strategist believes the US failed to follow the pattern of democracy export used in Japan and Germany in the wake of the Second World War. As a result, the Americans failed to win over either the hearts or the minds of the people of Afghanistan.

Mandiner features a Facebook post by Deputy Cabinet Minister Balázs Orbán in which he argues that democracy exports can’t work if they are not preceded or at least accompanied by a sensible rise in living standards. Mr Orbán (a namesake of the Prime Minister), a former leading analyst at the pro-government Századvég think tank, serves as the deputy Minister in charge of the Prime Minister’s Office and was appointed last week Political Director with the task of co-ordinating the activities of the PM’s advisors. In post-war Germany and Japan, he explains, the advent of democracy was accompanied by steep economic growth and swiftly rising living standards. That is what legitimised democracy as a system that worked better in the eyes of an originally hostile population in both cases, Orbán suggests. By contrast, in Afghanistan, the bulk of the population had no such pleasant experience with democracy. What’s more, he adds, America decided to export its own version of liberal democracy, rather than just democracy, trying to export values which are even contested back home. A few weeks before the sudden and complete collapse of the US-supported regime, the US Embassy thought it important to post a rainbow flag on its website to celebrate LGBT values and Pride Month – in a country where such ideas were bound to provoke adverse reactions. Thus Orbán finds it highly unsurprising that the mission failed.

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