THE MIDDLE EAST DEMOCRACY EXPERIMENT WINDS DOWN
President Bush still refuses to acknowledge what the rest of the world already knows, along with a growing majority of Americans : The 'democracy experiment' in the Middle East has failed, the 'War On Iraq' is a disaster, and the 'War On Afghanistan' is rapidly going the same way as Iraq.
So it's time for Bush to change the tune he's been singing for near on five years.
It's not all about bringing democracy into the Middle East and Afghanistan anymore, now it's about dividing the "moderates" from the "extremists", though the definition of "extremist" is as vague as the 'Global War On Terror' definition of "terrorism". Even as we move into the sixth year of the GWoT, there is still not an international consensus on what determines an action to be an "act of terrorism".
The new song Bush is singing is all about "idealogies" of hatred, and extremism, and how they must be "defeated". But leaders across the Middle East are growing impatient with Bush Co. They know one of the greatest motivators, and recruiting agents, for "extremist idealologies" is the bloodbath that is the 'War On Iraq' and the never-ending humiliation of the Palestinian people by Israel.
Terrorism barely gets a mention anymore in Bush speeches, which also means, then, that the 'T' word is rarely uttered by coalition leaders like British prime minister Tony Blair and Australian prime minister John Howard.
For Bush Co now, it's all about the "extremists". It's the new new Bush Doctrine.
From the Boston Globe :
Belatedly, the debate in (the Bush) administration appears to have been won by those who recognize that equating successful counter-terrorism with implanting democracy is naive (witness the exploitation of democracy by Hamas, Hezbollah, and militant Shi'ites in Iraq), and also embarrassing to intransigently undemocratic governments (like Pakistan) that the United States is courting, not only for help in combating terrorism but also for reasons of arms control, access to energy, military bases, and hospitality to US investments (including Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, and of course China).
...the renewed recognition of Afghanistan as the flashpoint in the effort to eradicate Al Qaeda and a realistic backing away from hubristic neoconservative illusions about democratic peace growing out of the barrel of a gun...should be welcomed, despite their obvious purpose of shifting the political spotlight away from the administration's gross ineptitude in Iraq.
The new Bush doctrine of supporting "moderate" regimes and movements against the extremists sounds like a realistic accommodation to the reality that not all those upon whom the United States depends for its security and well-being can pass a litmus test for democracy and human rights.
More on the failure of the 'GWoT' as an avenue to encourage, or scare, democracies into life across the Middle East from the Globe and Mail :
A year ago, Condoleezza Rice arrived in Cairo preaching about the importance of spreading democracy in the Middle East, even if that meant risking other short-term goals.
"The U.S. pursuit of stability in the Middle East at the expense of democracy has achieved neither," the U.S. Secretary of State told an audience at the American University in Cairo.
No one needed to be told that she was referring to the long-held U.S. practice of propping up unloved autocrats like Egypt's Hosni Mubarak or Saudi Arabia's Royal Family.
"Now we are taking a different course," she promised. "We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people."
Ms. Rice arrives in Cairo today to give a very different message at a mini-summit with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, as well as the Persian Gulf kingdoms of Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.
All eight countries are U.S. allies in the war on terrorism, but none have democratically elected leaders.The electoral advance of the Islamists (Hizbullah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine) has forced the Bush administration to return to the same old prayer book that it made a show of throwing out a year ago: embracing repressive monarchs and dictators as "moderates" and friends in Washington's battle against Islamic extremism.
The summer war between Israel and Hezbollah, Ms. Rice suggested yesterday, forced the strategic rethink.
"When Lebanon happened, I think [we] got in very stark relief a clear indication that there are extremist forces and moderate forces [in the Middle East]," she said to reporters travelling with her. "The countries that we are meeting . . . is a group that you would expect to support the emerging moderate forces in Lebanon, in Iraq and in the Palestinian territories."
Ms. Rice is expected to ask the Arab regimes to aid the region's wobbling pro-Western leaders, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, whose loyalists have fought bloody street battles with Hamas gunmen in recent days, and Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, who faces a challenge to his authority from Hezbollah's popular leader, Hassan Nasrallah.
She'll also ask the eight Sunni regimes to try to encourage Iraq's alienated Sunnis, who increasingly look to be at war with the U.S. supported Shia-led government in Baghdad, to join the limping political process in that country.
The Lebanon war, however, illustrated that many of the leaders she is appealing to are badly out of touch with their own people. While the Egyptian, Jordanian and Saudi governments all initially condemned Hezbollah for instigating the conflict, obediently toeing the U.S. line, Mr. Nasrallah and Hezbollah became folk heroes on the streets of many Arab capitals for standing up to what many saw as U.S.-sponsored Israeli aggression.
"The Bush administration has yet to signal any change of heart toward this region, which has suffered terribly due to the muddled and biased foreign policy," read a scorching editorial...in the state-run Egyptian Gazette...
"The Arabs have lost hope that this administration will do anything to resolve the problems, but they cannot admit this publicly," said Diaa Rashwan, a political analyst at the al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo.
Egypt's own democrats, meanwhile, say they've stopped believing that the Americans are allies in their struggle to attain more freedoms.
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