Thursday, June 23, 2005

Question 8: Why Has There Been a Rise in Mid-East Democracy?

Question eight in our ongoing debate series about the War on Terror and the Iraq War is:

Why has there been a rise in democracy across the Middle East? Does Bush deserve credit?

Question One: Why did we invade Iraq?

Question Two: Has the Iraq war set any precedents?

Question Three: Are we safer?

Question Four: Why do some think America is the enemy?

Question Five: Why are we so divided?

Question Six: Why do we use words like ‘Hitler’ and ‘unpatriotic’?

Question Seven: Can you oppose the war and still support the troops?


At 9:05 AM, Anonymous John Gruesen said...

Has there really been a rise in demacracy in the middle east?. Yes, there are a few countries going thru the motions of becoming more of a democracy. Some of it, like in Eygpt and Saudi Arabia, so far has just been for show, with nothing real happening. Others that are really trying to become more democratic are being destablized or influenced by outside forces, as in Lebanon by Syria, or in Iraq by Iran and Syria. Even Iran which had been making slow steps towards democracy has become more authoritarian since our invasion of Iraq. Ask this question in five years or better in 25 years, then we will have a better time scale to evaluate the question.

At 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having lately been in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I have to say that things there are changing for the better, and at a dizzying pace.

Of course, they have a long, long way to go yet, from our perspective. But still, to say that holding municipal elections this spring (the first ever elections of any kind in the country's history) is "just for show, with nothing real happening" is clearly nonsense. Granted, the franchise was limited. Granted, the winners were not flaming liberals, even by Saudi standards.

But consider that:
- While the franchise was extremely limited, the Saudis now have actual experience with the process of running an election. (We may think _everybody_ knows how to sit down in a group and elect someone chair, because that is how we do things. But in some places it is a radical innovation.)
- There are already public calls to expand the franchise next time. Including extending it to women. This in a country where Freedom of Speach is a novelty.
- There are also public calls to expand the number of areas which are subject to popular election.

For an absolute monarchy, where nobody outside the Royal family has previously had any say in government, this has to be seen as a "rise in ... democracy." From a low base, but still a rise.

At 12:01 PM, Blogger Alan Stewart Carl said...

While it's hard to say if the recent rise in democracy is the first flourishing of lasting change or just a momentary bit of good news, I think it's very hard not to say that the events are interrelated and that American policy has had an influence. From the minor but important changes in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, to women getting the right to vote in Kuwait to the dramatic events of Lebanon and even The Ukraine, a lot has happened to show we are making progress on Bush’s pledge to spread democracy.

I don’t know if the Iraq war itself is to credit although I am sure the sight of Iraqis voting was a major help as were the Afghanistan elections. And I do think Bush’s pledge to support democracy everywhere has been key, as has the follow-through work of our diplomats and the issuance of pro-democracy aide.

There’s a LOT more work to be done. We need to stop coddling Uzbekistan and start working towards democracy there. And Sudan is going to be a big problem if we keep letting their atrocities slide. In fact, as far as democracy goes, most of Africa needs a lot of work. But we should be emboldened by the progress in the Middle East and continue to commit the time, resources and rhetoric necessary to keep the ball rolling. Ensuring democracy does indeed take root strongly in Iraq is a major part of this, but so is all the quieter yet vital diplomatic work being done across the region.

It’s important to keep the changes in context as we’re nowhere near being over the hump, but I think it’s also important not to diminish the changes that have occurred. These advances have been good news.

At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Jennifer said...

There have indeed been some positive signs and I will credit Bush for this. Democracy is a very fragile thing, and, as John said, it will be some years before we know if this was a temporary show to avoid falling bombs in their own countries or progressive and lasting change.

I find it ironic, though, that as Bush has been calling for freedom and democracy in the Middle East, he and his inner circle have been commandeering the media as a propaganda machine for his own political benefit, stripping us of personal liberties through the Patriot Act, denying commonly accepted standards of human rights to our prisoners, and merging government and corporate interests. And as he tries his best to prevent a secular government in Iraq, he tries his best to promote a secular government here at home.

If Bush's actions result in significantly more freedom and democracy the Middle East, I will give him credit. But to condone lying to Congress in pursuit of his goals would be a terrible precedent.

At 2:05 PM, Blogger Robert Rouse said...

If in ten years, Democracy lasts in the countries who are experiencing it in its infancy, then I will give Bush credit for this one.

I would, however, rather our country be know to speak softly and "carry" a big stick, than the bully who screams and "wields" a big stick.

At 4:12 PM, Blogger AubreyJ said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:59 PM, Blogger AubreyJ said...

Question 8: Has the sweep of democracy been the result of the war in Iraq or of other, less publicized work to advance freedom or both? (As Alan puts it today-- Why has there been a rise in democracy across the Middle East? Does Bush deserve credit?)

My short answer was: Iraq was the spark but there is so much more to it than that. (I probably should stop while I’m ahead-- But I just can’t find myself to do so…)

First of all… We should not forget to throw Afghanistan into the mix. For let us not forget that Afghanistan was the first shoe to drop in this Middle East Democratization puzzle. And let it be known that Afghanistan is not out of the woods yet by a long shot.

They too have an election of grave importance coming up in a few months. And again all concerns are on the Taliban and al-Qaeda, (Osama bin Laden’s network of terror and murdering thugs,) trying to kill as many as they can to slow down or stop this Democratic process. (Note: It’s sad for me to say this but the major news media will not start reporting on this news until the killing start to ratchet up again. Unfortunately that time is slowly coming.) But again like in Iraq, to see this Democratic process work itself out, it’s going to take TIME, PATIENCE and a very STRONG WILL to see it all through. (Unfortunately too many Americans just flat out have none of the above these days and that’s just sad.)

Second of all let’s never, EVER FORGET the mess going on between Israel and the Palestinian People. (We do not report on or pay enough attention to this part of the world these days… But we better!!!) For if this mess can not get worked out and SOON the whole world is going to pay Hell for this one.

I guess what concerns me is this… If America and all of its greatest Allies can not find a way to bring PEACE to the lands of Israel and the Palestinian People, if we can not achieve all our goals in Iraq and Afghanistan in a timely manner, the only thing that is going to sweep the Middle East is WAR!!! I’m talking major War like we have not seen since World War Two.....

I’ll also say this-- The Sweep of Democracy is on the move yet on hold at the same time. What happens in the next 6 months or should well tell us which way the Winds are Blowing on this one. I can only pray that it’s for Democracy and for free peoples...

By the way... No matter how this all comes out, it will be because of the decisions President Bush has made in the past, (to get us to this point in history,) the ones he is making right now and the ones he is soon to make. President Bush will take the CREDIT on how all of this plays out, one way or the other, GOOD or BAD......


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