"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, March 4, 2011

Meanwhile, the World Keeps Spinning

While we dither about our own finances and budgets, the world keeps spinning.   There are remarkable events transpiring in the Middle East.   I do not know which way they will go -- "democracy" in the Middle East could end up as "one man, one vote, one time," with the enactment of sharia law and a return to Iranian-style dictatorship of the imams.   In fact, I fear that is the likeliest outcome.  But the uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, etc., all at least have a glimmer of hope for real democracy, something that the region has sorely lacked for.... well, forever.  

In that hopeful light, Charles Krauthammer has a must-read article today:

Voices around the world, from Europe to America to Libya, are calling for U.S. intervention to help bring down Moammar Qaddafi. Yet for bringing down Saddam Hussein, the U.S. has been denounced variously for aggression, deception, arrogance, and imperialism.

A strange moral inversion, considering that Saddam’s evil was an order of magnitude beyond Qaddafi’s. Qaddafi is a capricious killer; Saddam was systematic....

No matter the hypocritical double standard. Now that revolutions are sweeping the Middle East and everyone is a convert to George W. Bush’s freedom agenda, it’s not just Iraq that has slid into the memory hole. Also forgotten is the once proudly proclaimed “realism” of years one and two of President Obama’s foreign policy — the “smart power” antidote to Bush’s alleged misty-eyed idealism.
It began on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s first Asia trip, when she publicly played down human-rights concerns in China. The administration also cut aid for democracy promotion in Egypt by 50 percent. And cut civil-society funds — money for precisely the organizations we now need to help Egyptian democracy — by 70 percent.
This new realism reached its apogee with Obama’s reticence and tardiness in saying anything in support of the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran. On the contrary, Obama made clear that nuclear negotiations with the discredited and murderous regime (talks that a child could see would go nowhere) took precedence over the democratic revolutionaries in the street — to the point where demonstrators in Tehran chanted “Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them.”
Now that revolution has spread from Tunisia to Oman, however, the administration is rushing to keep up with the new dispensation, repeating the fundamental tenet of the Bush Doctrine that Arabs are no exception to the universal thirst for dignity and freedom.
The rehabilitation of the reputation of George W. Bush proceeds apace.  If the wished-for miracle occurs, and the Middle East moves significantly toward democracy and relative freedom for individuals -- and coupled with the enormous aid to Africa for AIDs care and prevention Bush advanced -- President Bush may yet be seen, ironically, as the most beneficent "liberal" (in the true meaning of the term) President since FDR.  

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