Sunday, March 30, 2008

Selling Democracy – De Lux Model with Double-Standards Built In- THE WORLD ACCORDING TO BILL FISHER

The US position on promoting democracy while turning a blind eye to blatant and widespread human rights abuses in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere has made America vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy and has doubtless contributed to the precipitous fall in the world’s respect for the US.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Selling Democracy – De Lux Model with Double-Standards Built In

By William Fisher

Old Chatham, New York, United States
William Fisher has managed economic development programs for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development in the Middle East, Latin America and elsewhere for the past 25 years. He served in the administration of President John F. Kennedy.
The news went largely unreported, so you may have missed it, but last week the editor of a newspaper in Cairo was sentenced to six months in prison for spreading “false information… damaging the public interest and national stability” by reporting that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was in a coma. The judge in the case said the report, by Ibrahim Eissa, editor of Egypt’s Al-Dustour, caused panic among foreign investors and threatened Egypt’s economy.

This case is unremarkable given the recent history of Egypt’s contempt for press freedom – in fact, for all the freedoms we Americans still regard as our inalienable rights. It is arguably more remarkable in that, if the test of “spreading false information” were applied to American journalists, building more jails would be a higher priority than building new homes for Katrina victims.

That said, however, the news of Mr. Eissa’s conviction gives us yet another example of the embarrassing double standards built into US foreign policy. Our State Department produces an annual report on human rights abuses around the world, but neglects to assess our own performance.

So Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, renditions and waterboarding, are absent. Instead, the Bush Administration continues to bury us in empty bromides about democracy promotion.

But the democracy-promotion mantra didn’t start with George W. Bush. It started as long ago as Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. It was significantly ratcheted up during the Cold War administration of President Ronald Reagan (1981-89), when the US policy of Soviet containment made friends of the enemies of our enemy.

In 1982, Reagan told the British Parliament of a "democratic revolution" gathering force around the globe. Reagan announced that the US would “foster the infrastructure of democracy" — a free press, independent unions, truly representative political parties, and the many other institutions essential to a functioning democracy.

Bush 41, considered a foreign policy “realist,” continued the theme, though somewhat less stridently. And the Clinton Administration embraced much the same themes during the 1990s, to make its case for our embrace of globalization.

But post-9/11, the Bush Administration raised the promotion of democracy and freedom – particularly in the Middle East -- to a historically higher rhetorical priority. In his second inaugural address, Bush said, “It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

Bush said the "resentment and tyranny"...

In Full

No comments: