10/15/2004: Here's the portrait of success in the Middle East....
Yep. We're certainly bringing democracy to the restless, yearning masses:
For the moment, the combination of Bush's war in Iraq and his disavowal of an Israeli-Palestinian peace process—which many Muslims see, however misleadingly, as two fronts of a broad U.S. war on Islam—has gravely diminished the very concepts of democracy. Gilles Kepel writes in his new book, The War for Muslim Minds:
The word "democracy," preceded by the adjective "Western," has negative connotations for a large swathe of the educated Muslim middle class—although that class was the potential beneficiary of democratization. The Arabic word damakatra, which designates the democratization process, is frequently used pejoratively, signifying a change imposed from without. This disillusionment is of course highly beneficial to the region's authoritarian governments. Rulers go from one international venue to another, insisting that they are favorable to reforms but that change cannot be imposed externally.... Posing as the champions of nationalism, they wage facile battles against foreign imperialism while postponing any meaningful reform.... The Bush administration's ineptness in the region could not have led to a more complete dead end.NPR's Deborah Amos recently returned from a tour of the Arab states with similar findings. Reform-minded figures in Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia told her that they don't want Bush to endorse their goals or programs—that association with the United States these days, for any cause, is a kiss of death.
--Fred Kaplan [emphasis added --LRC]
Len on 10.15.04 @ 07:05 AM CST