"Here are some simple ways to identify a real democratic election. The ruling party should not be allowed to shape the election arrangements and intimidate voters. The candidates should be able to compete on a reasonably level playing field. Impartial observers should be welcome and given time to deploy themselves at polling places nationwide.
Not one of these defining features was evident in last week’s Egyptian presidential voting, whose main purpose was to usher President Hosni Mubarak into his fifth six-year term. On Friday he was officially declared the winner, collecting 88.5 percent of the votes." NY Times
Did anyone really think that there was going to be an honest election in Egypt? If you did, you ought to contemplate the issue of whether or not you really understand the limits of American power.
The assumption inherent in the Bush "Greater Middle East Initiative" is that through a combination of exhortation, military force (or the threat of it), political "jaw-boning," a possibility of sanctions and "public diplomacy" (propaganda), the US can cause a general change in the political and social culture of the Middle East.
This is nonsense, a structure of fantasy based on the idea that there really is only one world culture and that we Americans represent the "bow wave" of that culture. In spite of all out talk about diversity and multi-culturalism the great majority of us think that everyone is basically the same and that local "culture" consists of Kodak Moments.
Iraq, Egypt, Afghanistan, Palestine, Lebanon. Things are not develping in accordance with "the plan" in any of these places:
Iraq – Best outcome will be a Shia dominated government isolated in a hostile Sunni World. Worst outcome will be a divided Iraq. We will be hated for either of these outcomes across the Arab World.
Afghanistan – Karzai is basically the mayor of Kabul protected there by foreign forces.
Egypt – They basically ignored us and if we succeed in breaking up the existing order there we will face the prospect of a fundamentalist government.
Palestine – They still hate the Israelis even after the withdrawal from Gaza. Hamas and armed resistance are credited with causing the withdrawal..
Lebanon – The former security chiefs are jailed in the Hariri investigation. Did they kill Hariri? No idea, but guess what? These fellows were Rafik Hariri’s right hand men when he was Prime Minister for two terms. How can that be? The truth is that Rafik Hariri cooperated closely with Syria throughout his time in office. He was the "man" for various people but the rulers of Syria were at the top of the list. His conversion to the cause of "democaracy" began when he left office for the second time and began to prepare for this year’s election as a reform candidate acceptablle under the "Greater Middle East Initiative." His "laundering" into the exemplar of a champion of democracy is one of the marvels of image management of our time. What’s new in Lebanon? Different people in jail and an increase of Hizbollah power, that’s what.
So, what is going wrong in the "Greater Middle East Initiative?"
You tell me. Karen Hughes has a big job.