Andy, let me push back a little on one issue. Your statement that “There have been many fewer free societies than non-free ones,” may be true, but does not account for the trend of the last two decade, if not century.
The question of security vs. freedom goes to the core of our argument, which is why I’d suggest any solution to the Iraq problem requires addressing rule-of-law. Unfortunately, the proposals floated by the Baker-Hamilton Commission and Democrats in Congress seem to favor proposals which would either create a vacuum or entrust our national security to the good faith of Tehran and Damascus. There is also the question of North Korea: If security is predominant issue–North Korea is stable and secure–why are so many North Koreans risking life-and-limb to flee the country?
To another point: With all due respect for the Secretary of State, her willingness to entertain that some “democracies” need not be democratic are disingenuous. So what do I mean by a template for change? There has to be a common acceptance of the principles of demcoracy by all participants. Maintaining armed wings and being democratic are mutually exclusive for political parties. If we allow armed political parties to compete in elections, we do not get democracy, but rather Gaza, Lebanon, and Iraq. With regard to Islamism, I’ve addressed this elsewhere .
I’m afraid too many people will throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to tthe democracy debate. You’re absolutely right that we cannot approach democracy simplistically. We cannot pretend that elections are enough. And we cannot legitimize those groups which seek the legitimacy of democracy but the benefits of terrorism. But, I’d argue it is counterproductive in the long-term to abandon democratization and transformative diplomacy as key principles of US foreign policy.