I woke up a year ago and realized that we are already well into the century of Democracy's peril. Two leading powers in the world, China and Russia, were in the hands of men who were ruthless in jailing and otherwise disposing of all opposition. There were too many dictators. Perhaps worse, the will to democracy that gripped millions just a few years earlier was now gone.

I knew why democracy was on the ropes. I knew why the picture of a century of new democracies was fading.

The violence question

The most obvious truth of the Iraq War, apart from its inadvisability, was the fact that democracy cannot coexist with violence.

Most democracies see this and have embraced peaceful policies. But the US, in particular, has tried to have its cake and eat it too. It won't work.

The best public advocates of democracy included none other than President George W. Bush. His argument for the universal spread of democracy was almost flawless. But Bush was a dyed-in-the-wool neocon. He believed, with men like Mao, Stalin, and his father George H. W. Bush, that politics necessitated force.

The limits of force

Politics does involve force but that force becomes useless when it involves harm and hurt, the signature qualities of actual evil. Mao had good ideas in thinking of a cultural revolution, but his dream was beaten from the start.

You do not base a cultural revolution on violence.

It was a good idea to for the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, but the shock and awe tactics exhibited by the Bush military were unpardonable. Even wars in which the most careful calculation seem justified are, on analysis, a net loss.

The triadic option

It is not good for anyone to be a doormat, letting folks walk all over you.

But tolerance is better than a thoughtless escalation of rhetoric. We are witnessing this exact dynamic in the back and forth debate between Trump and North Korea. It is binary politics at its worst.

To escape the trap of violence it is necessary to reject it as an option.

Rejecting it is saying we will not play this game. Time may elapse. Administrations may change. But the uses of war must be rejected. War should no longer be on any table, anywhere.

Third ways

Solutions in triadic philosophy are always plural. You don’t sit down saying "it’s my way or the highway." You do not have to use violence as the evil at the end of the road if people do not behave. Punishment does not work. Enablement does. Secrets don’t serve. Education does. Enablement and education are third ways with infinite costumes and capacities.

As long as violence has the power to animate political life, democracy is an endangered species.