"American officials must recognize the contradiction in their simultaneous support for democracy and dictatorial Muslim regimes" -- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
By Husain Haqqani
The Indian Express, November 18, 2005
A US-sponsored international conference on democracy in the Middle East ended last week without a final agreement because one of America’s closest allies, Egypt, insisted on retaining control over the pace and method of democratization. The Forum for the Future, a joint US-European initiative launched at the 2004 G-8 summit hosted by President Bush is part of the Bush administration’s plans for promoting democracy in the Islamic world. But the authoritarian governments that receive massive amounts of aid from the US do not want democracy.
As Egypt, which accounts for a quarter of the Arab world’s population and is the second-largest recipient of US aid, demonstrated at the Bahrain meeting of the Forum for the Future last week, Muslim dictators want to control the democratisation process and would love to get more American money in the name of building democracy. If Hosni Mubarak had his way, the way forward for the US and the Muslim world would be for the US to increase aid for the authoritarian Muslim regimes and declare these very regimes as democratic.
Officially, of course, Egypt neither objected to democracy nor to fostering civil society. It spoke in the name of national sovereignty and its officials emphasised that peace in the Middle East must precede full democracy. From North Africa to Pakistan , such arguments have always been the grounds for potentates to thwart real change in the way their countries are governed.
Slogans of “Palestine before democracy” or “Kashmir before normalisation” enable America’s authoritarian allies to carry on business as usual. For its part, Washington knows the game but continues to play along. Even after the setback at the Forum for the Future in Bahrain, US officials were muted in their criticism of the rulers they finance. For the sake of stability in the region, the US is willing to pursue a dichotomous policy. It keeps on defining democratisation as its priority but refuses to condemn those that obstruct its democratisation agenda, namely the Muslim potentates Washington trusts with ensuring stability.
.....[Read the rest if you please -- Chip]
There's that word again, "stability." The Soviet Union was stable under Stalin. Hitler was all about stability, and expanding it to other nations. If you were unstable in Pol Pot's Cambodia you found yourself in a pile of bones. And so on...
UPDATE: Americans aren't the only hypocrites. It's a big tent which includes Arab 'liberals.'
Indifferent to Democracy
Indifferent to Democracy
Why the Arab world roots for American failure in Iraq.
BY MICHAEL YOUNG
.....But even with respect to Iraqi nationalism, Arabs have little to cling to. Iraqi displeasure with the U.S. may be genuine, but has largely been framed parochially, not by a desire to re-create a broad Iraqi national self--though the impulse may yet be alive in some quarters. Is that letdown surprising? After all, Saddam Hussein's Baathist Iraq, like Hafez Assad's Syria, blended symbols of nationalism with the counterfeit comprehensiveness of Arab nationalism, all to burnish systems that were--are--duplicitous facades for minority rule.
It is politically, however, that Arab societies, specifically liberals, failed to see the advantages in the removal of Saddam, regardless of their antipathy to the Bush administration. Here was an opportunity to cheer on the emergence of an Arab democracy, with deep implications for democracy at home, and it was missed. More disturbing was that this need never have contradicted Iraqi sovereignty. Washington could have been repeatedly reminded by Arab democrats keen to see the Iraq project succeed for their own good, that true democracy meant, after a period of stabilization, allowing Iraq to be free of foreign interference. Yet other than from the Iraqis themselves, the argument was rarely heard in the Arab world; advantageous pragmatism was supplanted by stubborn attachment to principle--"principle" that, in yearning for American failure, ignored how Iraqis suffered from the ensuing carnage.
Saddam's fall was welcomed by shamefully few Arabs (I recall how, on the day of his capture, a liberal Arab intellectual living in the U.S. mainly regretted that this would bolster George W. Bush's popularity ratings): The "humiliation" of seeing an Arab leader toppled by Western armies far outweighed that of seeing one of the most talented of Arab societies, the Middle East's Germany, subjected to a ferocious despotism responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths. Nor was there much interest regionally in the discovery of the Baath's mass graves. One reason was the secondary concern that many Arab societies have for Saddam's foremost victims--the Shiites and Kurds; but the main cause of indifference was that Saddam's crimes, if acknowledged, threatened to imply the Arabs' inability to responsibly manage their own emancipation.