Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Rice’s Short-Lived Commitment To Middle East Democracy

Bush administration officials frequently claim they are committed to democracy and freedom in the Middle East, not mere “stability.” As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice put it on 6/20/05:

For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East– and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.

President Bush reaffirmed this commitment more recently on the fifth anniversary of September 11. “Years of pursuing stability to promote peace had left us with neither. So we changed our policies, and committed America’s influence in the world to advancing freedom and democracy as the great alternatives to repression and radicalism.”

In reality, the Bush administration continues to overlook serious abuses of fundamental democratic rights. As the New York Times reports, Rice did not address Egypt’s poor human rights record while she was in the region meeting with government officials:

In the days before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with officials in Egypt, the news media here were filled with stories detailing charges of corruption, cronyism, torture and political repression. …

Ms. Rice, who once lectured Egyptians on the need to respect the rule of law, did not address those domestic concerns. Instead, with Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit by her side, she talked about her appreciation for Egypt’s support in the region.

It was clear that the United States — facing chaos in Iraq, rising Iranian influence and the destabilizing Israeli-Palestinian conflict — had decided that stability, not democracy, was its priority, Egyptian political commentators, political aides and human rights advocates said.

According to the State Department’s latest report on human rights, in 2005, the Egyptian “government’s respect for human rights remained poor, and serious abuses continued in many areas.”

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