I believe in American exceptionalism. That our nation is better than others in many ways. One of those is in our style of government. While we are going through another fragile period in our history with the election of President Obama and the rise of the Tea Party opposition, it is still safe to note that ours is the best government, and we are the most indispensible nation. That said, any government is combustible under the right circumstances.
Since that's true, Ameica should be humble in our foreign policy in general, and very careful promoting democracy with respect to Muslim countries. There is a much higher tolerance of violence as a legitimate means to a political end in that part of the world. There is a much wider gap between mainstream political ideologies. There are very poor people whose dreams have never been cultivated, who can be either incited to act or misused as pawns. Lastly, we must realize that there's no perfect system. There's always disagreement about the notion of "fairness", and rightfully so. Therefore we shouldn't advocate democracy as the equivalent of "freedom". And we should even be careful equating "free speech" and the right to "peacefully protest" as positive change without any possible downside.
There's always a downside. There's always positive scenarios that a nation foregoes in favor of freedom. We shouldn't be dishonest about how difficult and dangerous a "free" society is.
Take the U.S.:
We are so "free" we allow murderers to roam lose if some policeman violates his "civil rights" by not reading miranda rights or otherwise someone in the system not following the constitutional procedures of evidence.
We are so "free" we allow dangerous illegal drugs on our streets because the criminals use our
laws against us.
We are so "free" we allow perverts nearly free reign on the internet.
We are so "free" we allow people to speak vulgarities against many people's cherished faiths.
We are so "free" we allow the destruction of abortions to occur thousands of time every day.
We are so "free" we allow the radical gay rights lobby the ability to poison our culture.
I'm not necessarily making my policy preferences known. For instance, I'm generally against the war on drugs, pro choice on abortion, and really am against gay rights.
I'm saying that rational people could choose against "freedom" if it meant more security or more moral behavior.
In addition, in this information age, there are so many different people with varying agendas who are willing to use whatever they can to reach their goals. So it is truly difficult to maintain a simple foreign policy like "America supports freedom".
I would probably still say it. I would look to implement it where I could safely.
But those in the know, should recognize that we as the United States should focus on how to make our country a more perfect union first and foremost. That will help the most people in the world more than anything else. After that, we should pick our "freedom" battles very carefully.
What this means is, I'd rather have a dangerous nation be run by a friendly (to us) dictator than a hostile democracy. Even in this country, think of how many people vote against your favorite candidate. Think of how many people voted for Pat Buchanan in 2000. Hundreds of thousands? Ralph Nader, millions? I voted for John Kerry. That was really against George Bush, but I could see why Republicans would really not want Kerry as President. My point is, imagine some of these voters all lived in one area and controlled that government. Not a U.S. style with a constitution that prevents democracy from "going too far". See what I mean? In the greatest nation in the world, we all accept a Constitution that won't let the people vote to do many things or prohibit things they would otherwise.
Surely, people in the 1960's voted to discriminate against blacks. We took that right away from them.
Surely, many people today would vote to outlaw guns for nearly everybody. ( I would be in that group)
Surely, many people would vote to take away women's freedom to "protect the unborn". I'm talking about proscribing their whole life: food, activities, work availiablity, etc.
Surely, many people would vote to democratize nuclear power.
Then we would be voting to kill ourselves.
I don't want that. The Constitution is not a suicide pact.
Everything must be kept in a reasonable perspective.
In many Muslim nations that means no democracy until the people become more tolerant and reasonable.