Sunday, February 27, 2005

George Bush

I was just reflecting on the state of the world before George Bush, and on the way it is today. The changes are really interesting. Bush, not just at the beginning of his second term, where he can start effecting real change has already presided over probably the biggest change in world politics since WWII.

The Ukraine just demanded and got a corruption-free election. Lybia is open to the west. Iraq has had elections that were pretty free. Saudi Arabia had elections of some sort. The Palestinians had something like free elections. Lebanon just made demands of Syria. The Egyptians are talking about free elections. Afghanistan had real elections. Israel is about to leave Gaza.

I can't imagine how racist you have to be, how anti-progress you have to be, how unconcerned about the state of liberty and freedom you have to be, to oppose this sort of agenda. One has to have this sort of hyper-selfish, isolationist, me-first and me-only attitude to look at the way the world is and hate the man who presided and encouraged, supported, and partially caused all this to happen.


30 something said...

And yet eveyone in that region hates us more than ever. Go figure.

Karl said...

Gratitude might not be a real virtue in most parts of the world. Also, most people will often choose to ascribe the cause of reform to the cause that is most convenient. Khadafi I am sure tells his people that he settled the bombing claim out of some degree of generosity, not because his arm was twisted by the US. Saudia Arabis I am sure does not credit the US for their elections. I am really not at all interested in being popular if the torture chambers and rape rooms of all these countries close down. I couln't care if the Lebanese sit around and hate the US, as long as they are politically free from Syrian rule, etc. I amsure that if Syria ever pulls out, the Lebanese will think they did it. Fine. I am more conerned about their freedom than how they think they got it. Once they get it, they will realize that they have little to gain from hating anyone. This will take time, but if we think in the short-term, we;ll accomplish nothing.

Nafta said...

The main thing I think about these situations is this: nothing. Nothing at all. Incidents like the ones cited here happen all the time, in every political climate, and they almost always amount to nothing. Dubyuh is no more the cause of what is taking place in the these areas than Clinton was for the reforms in Bosnia Herzegovina and Northern Ireland, and Bush-the-First was for balkanizing of the former Soviet republics.

All the Arab world is trying to do is kiss up to the USA by making mostly ceremonial gestures of reform. Does anyone actually believe that there is going to be even a cheap facsimile of democracy in places like Syria, Egypt, or Lebanon anytime soon? They won’t even advance to a clone of Turkey’s Islamic pseudo-democracy, which still allows for what – we here in the US would consider – wholly undemocratic government activities such as political and media repression, the infusion of religious ideology with government processes. And, the charade of progress can even be dangerous, since it removes international pressure for genuine reform.

The “elections” that these regimes are saying that they will allow are a dog and pony show. Elections are the culmination of the democratic process – not the initiation. How can you have free and honest elections without a free press, without genuine freedom of speech, without freedoms of petition and assembly, and without a free and independent judiciary that has the power to override and review the elections? All that’s being done in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and the other places cited here is that the people are being “allowed” to “vote” for which thugs are going to be in charge. Wonderful. When Iraqis draft a Bill of Rights that guarantees citizens the right to be free of having their genitals fried with electricity on suspicion of being a threat to Islam, we’ll talk.

Finally, since Bush is responsible for all the wonderful advancements the world is making, is he also responsible for those areas where things are not going quite as well? How about Russia, you know, where three years ago Bush “Looked into Putin’s soul” and saw a benevolent man. Give me a break. Either Bush is a fool for believing such crap or a con man for trying to sell it to the American people. How’s Putin’s soul doing these days, as Russia races back toward complete authoritarianism? Or how about Belarus where in December the President suspended the constitution and appointed a rubber-stamp cabinet to grant himself a new term, which happens to run only for course of his natural life? Or Bangladesh and Indonesia, where their forms of the Bill of Rights have been suspended in the name of fighting the “War on Terror.” I’m sure that those in charge wouldn’t dream of abusing their new-found powers. Or how about Venezuela? Or Zimbabwe? Or the Ivory Coast? Or Liberia? Or Sudan? Yup, freedom is certainly on the march. Hooray.

BTW if you’re not careful FOX News is going to sue you for plagiarism.

Karl said...

The last refuge of those who deny progress is to claim that there has not been enough progress, and it has not been sufficiently timely.

The critics of the war keep have been saying this since they started to see progress: "The democracy is not enough, it was too costly, and if Bush is right, they we should have had an open societial utopia by now." I am unsurprised that Bush is often called a facist. Our society is imperfect, and so it is the same as all other facist societies with are also imperfect? To assert that the absence of democracy is the same as an imperfect one is odd. That is very strange logic indeed.

Mind you, I do not think Syria will become anything resembling civilized in the next ten years. But Lebanon has been a democracy, albeit a corrupt Syrian influenced one for 15 years, and if the events of the past week are any indication, there is real hope.

Turkey too, is a regular democracy. The last election was the first time that an Islamic party came to power. I was just there, and I saw exactly zero women wearing veils in the street. They certainly have a relatively free press, and many of the other rights we associate with a healthy democracy.

Also, it is pretty hard to argue that Bush had little to do with the elections in Iraq or Afghanistan. Perhaps you can find it a stretch to say that all this emboldened the people of the Ukraine, but to say Bush had nothing to do with Iraq is silly. It is also obvious (to me, anyway) that the events in Iraq are cascading to the rest of the middle east, just as was predicted by the administration. If Bush is not responsible, then you will have a hard time explaining how they managed to predict this given only the assumption that they invade Iraq.

Fourth, one cannot blame Bush for things that did not happen, any more than I can blame you for things that did not happen. Bush did not deliver the messiah either. Clinton did not bring peace to the Middle East. Is the conflict then his fault? Carter did not bring liberty to the people of the Soviet Union. Is that his fault too? What kind of system of culpability faults a president for all the good things that did not materialize during his presidency?

Oh, and admires your ability to cut and paste.