Middle Eastern democracy

March 24th, 2011

Sean Webster’s Feb. 24 column “Did Bush Bring Democracy to the Middle East?” takes a very selective and biased view of the events in the Middle East. He attributes the turmoil in the Middle East not to the beginning of a successful democracy in Iraq, a huge U.S. accomplishment, but to (in his mind) the Bush-caused recession.

Firstly, I cannot help but think that Webster suffers from “Bush Derangement Syndrome” where even after more than two years out of office, liberals cannot help but blame Bush for all the world’s ails. His delusional ideas lead him to end the article by calling Bush “an idiot.” This cheap shot is below the journalistic standards that The Carroll News should be held to.

Secondly, I think Webster is fundamentally wrong in his analysis of the Middle East. The uprisings are not focused solely, or even largely, on the economy. The economic argument doesn’t hold water. There have been many economic downturns in recent history, yet no huge uprisings. Furthermore, these protests have spread to relatively well-off countries like Bahrain and even Libya. What we are seeing is much greater, they are crying out for an end to autocratic rule and corruption and the introduction of natural human rights, like freedom of speech, of assembly, and of the press.

I have never seen a greater example of the common human urging for freedom. Do I attribute these uprisings to a democratic Iraq? Not completely but I believe it deserves its credit. Iraq should stand as what can become possible in the Middle East.

Regardless, the main question for the United States is what comes next? We hope reformers, through free elections, bring more freedom to the Middle East. But it is also very possible that an Islamist theocratic regime could arise, or a country could descend into complete lawlessness (a la Somalia). Both would be extremely damaging results for U.S. foreign policy.

So how has Obama handled this so far? To put it simply, Obama is lost in the world of foreign affairs, and it is showing now. Like a modern day Hamlet, he had to examine all of the possible consequences before deciding to do nothing. His response to the original turmoil in Egypt was incoherent and nonsensical. Did we support Mubarak or not? Obama certainly didn’t know.

His response to Libya came nine days late, and only after prodding from U.S. senators and other foreign leaders. Why did Obama pressure autocratic dictators in some countries (Mubarak in Egypt, Qadaffi in Libya) but not in others like Ahmadinejad in Iran, where our strategic interests are arguably greatest. The truth is the world needs a miracle in the Middle East, what it’s got is Barack Obama, that’s just how it is.