- Peace Garden: What Rise in Freedom?

What Rise in Freedom?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

What Rise in Freedom? is a great article that suggests, as I have hoped, we all step back before we raise W up to a god-status. Sure there are events in the Mid East that some are calling the beginnings of democracy...

"For starters, each of these events has its own dynamics. The new Israel-Palestine reality reflects the death of Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon's decision to seize the moment, defy his party, and do a ''Nixon to China" by dismantling some Israeli settlements in Arab lands. This shift has nothing to do with Bush or Iraq. Indeed, the Bush administration has been less active in promoting a Palestine settlement than any in memory. (Watch out, when Fidel Castro finally dies and democracy comes to Cuba, Bush will take credit for that, too.)

Saudi Arabia remains a dictatorship and an intimate ally of the Bush administration. The prospect of genuine democracy breaking out there soon is laughable. Egypt, a place where the CIA sends highly sensitive prisoners to be tortured, is a similar story. If Iran is negotiating about its nuclear ambitions, it is thanks to European diplomacy and over US objections.

Lebanon's instability dates to the 1920s, when the French split it off from Syria as a Christian enclave. The French formula gave the Lebanese Christian Maronites power over what soon became a larger Muslim majority. The consequences: on-and-off civil war and Syrian protectorate of Muslims. Lebanon is reminiscent of other colonial legacies in places like Rwanda, Vietnam, India, and Iraq, where Western powers played brutal ethnic games of divide and rule. The United States has tried to intervene in Lebanon before and each time got its fingers burned.

What the whole Mideast region has in common is a sense of bottled-up popular grievances, many of them directed against the United States for propping up dictators that served American military and corporate interests (including, once, Saddam Hussein).

If genuine democracy breaks out, Bush might not like it. Al-Jazeera, the Arab world's mirror image of Fox News, is the closest thing to free Arab language media -- and the Bush administration keeps trying to strangle it. By the same token, the eventual government that emerges in Baghdad is not likely to be both genuinely democratic and pro-American.

But Bush is right that people everywhere want to be free. However, the fitful expansion of democracy has been more the fruit of local struggle and complex diplomacy than American military intervention."

So let's take a long look at world events. Not everything is because of one man or one nation. Things are complex, not simple. Presidents should be complex, not simple. The world and diplomacy is complex and should not be treated as simple issues.

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