My good friend Paul Bonicelli at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) was interviewed by WORLD magazine last week. Paul oversees the 1.2 billion dollars the U.S. spends annually on democracy and governance programs, mostly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Paul had this to say about American efforts to promote democracy around the world:

The president has said many times that freedom isn't America's gift to the world, it's God's gift to humanity. Human beings are moral agents with reasoning capacity. They have a right and an ability and even a duty to govern their affairs. When they are not able to, it is often because of poverty or oppression, and the goal of this agency is to help alleviate these obstacles so that people can stand up for themselves and be self-governing.

As naysayers continue to chastise American "hubris," Paul points to past successes as reason to hope our efforts in Iraq will not be wasted. On Iraq:

Every political benchmark--despite incredible violence launched to thwart self-governance--has been met, from the establishment of a transitional government, to a vote for a temporary government while a constitution is voted on, and now the election of a permanent government. As long as the U.S. is committed to finishing the job of helping rebuild Iraq and support democracy, and the Iraqi people desire to govern themselves in a republic, there is great promise of success. The Iraqi people are like any other people besieged by aggressors inside and outside of Iraq who want to thwart their will to establish a democratic society; such people often need the aid of the powerful and willing democratic states...

 

[C]ulture can change--Japan and Germany are now democracies, Jim Crow is dead, South Africa is a republic, and Kurds and Shia and Sunni Muslims in Iraq are working out their differences even if it is a painstaking effort.

Read the complete interview: USAID's Paul Bonicelli.