March 2003 Archives
March 8, 2003
The Internet is stupid. Are you? Don't succumb to "Repetitive Mistake Syndrome." Read this.
March 1, 2003
Thomas Friedman, as usual, makes some good, if uncomfortable, points in this column in the NYT. The Europeans, he notes, are driven more by anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism when it comes to the Middle East than by freedom and democracy. The Americans, while we speak of democracy for our enemies are still unwilling to challenge the tyranny of our allies, and the Arabs would rather suffer "...a hundred years of tyranny than one day of anarchy," and few voices are heard for freedom.
Of these three groups, however, the one that seems to be changing are the Americans. (see Bush's recent speech at the AEI.) Kissinger style realpolitik seems to be waning as the US's overwhelming power mitigates the need to balance power around the world. Machtpolitik, as Robert Kagan has noted, is the US MO and as we depend less on two-bit dictatorships to preserve a global balance of power, we can afford to be an agent for change. Yes, the US is hypocritical in our stance towards the tyrannies of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait and the like, but increasingly this seems to be because of timing and tactics, not strategy. Once Iraq is freed and stabilized, the winds of reform will blow over Arabia.
From Friedman's column:
There is only one group of Arabs for whom Europeans have consistently spoken out in favor of their liberation — and that is those Arabs living under Israeli occupation, the Palestinians. Those Arabs who have been living under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein or other Arab dictators are of no concern to President Jacques Chirac of France and his fellow travelers.
We all know what this is about: the Jewish question. ...
The truth is, France is not interested in promoting égalité, fraternité and liberté in the Middle East. It is primarily interested today in managing American power. It is primarily interested in positioning France to become the world's next great "Uncola," the leader of the alternative coalition to American power. ...
But then, other than a few courageous Arab liberals, Arab intellectuals have not made democracy promotion a supreme value either. In part it's because liberating Palestine has always been treated by them as a more important political value. And in part it's because many Arab societies are still so tribalized, and have such a weak sense of citizenship, they fear that democracy could bring forth fundamentalists, a rival tribe or anarchy. ...
Ironically, 9/11 began to change this view. You can see it in the lack of Arab support for Saddam. There is a much deeper awareness that leaders like Saddam are what have retarded Arab development.
In case you missed it, a seminal speech by George W. Bush at AEI delivered on February 26th, 2003.
Here's an important excerpt:
It is presumptuous and insulting to suggest that a whole region of the world--or the one-fifth of humanity that is Muslim--is somehow untouched by the most basic aspirations of life. Human cultures can be vastly different. Yet the human heart desires the same good things, everywhere on Earth. In our desire to be safe from brutal and bullying oppression, human beings are the same. In our desire to care for our children and give them a better life, we are the same. For these fundamental reasons, freedom and democracy will always and everywhere have greater appeal than the slogans of hatred and the tactics of terror.