Natan Sharansky has lived an unusual life, spending nine years as a Soviet political prisoner and nine years as an Israeli politician. He brings the unique perspective of his experiences in order to make the case for democracy with his longtime friend and adviser Ron Dermer. In this brilliantly analytical yet personal book, nondemocratic societies are put under a microscope to reveal the mechanics of tyranny that sustain them. In exposing the inner workings of a “fear society,” the authors explain why democracy is not beyond any nation’s reach, why it is essential for our security and why there is much that can be done to promote it around the world.
Freedom, the authors claim, is rooted in the right to dissent, to walk into the town square and declare one’s views without fear of punishment or reprisal. The authors persuasively argue that societies that do not protect that right can never be reliable partners for peace and that the democracy that hates us is much safer than the dictatorship that loves us. The price for stability inside nondemocratic regimes, the authors explain, is terror outside of them. Indeed, the security of the free world depends on using all possible leverage-moral, political, and financial-to support democracy.
This book is about much more than theory. After explaining why the expansion of democracy is so critical to our future, the authors take us on a fascinating journey to see firsthand how an evil empire was destroyed and how the principles that led to that destruction were abandoned in the search for peace in the Middle East.
But the criticism contained in this book does not dampen its profound optimism. When there is every reason to doubt that freedom will prevail in the Middle East, this book declares unequivocally that the skeptics are wrong. The argument advanced here makes clear why lasting tyranny can be consigned to history’s dustbin if the free world stays true to its ideals. The question is not whether we have the power to change the world but whether we have the will. Summoning that will demands that we move beyond Right and Left and start thinking about right and wrong.