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Monday, March 08, 2004

U.S. Midde East Policy: Maturity or Rationalization?

Victor Davis Hanson in the National Review: Maturity in the Middle East

Since September 11 we have witnessed a historic emergence of a comprehensive foreign policy to confront Islamic fundamentalism and its parasitic relationship with Middle East autocracy - without which it cannot survive. The Bush administration has advanced the most ambitious, humane, and needed initiatives for the Middle East in the last half century. We no longer give autocracies a pass for pumping oil and keeping out Communists. Instead, without naivete we strive for constitutional government and modernization. We are trying to help to integrate the Middle East into the rest of the world's democratic economy - and to end our own appeasement of fundamentalism, dictatorship, gender-apartheid, anti-Semitism, and press censorship. For the first time in a half-century, the Saudi royal family is more worried about American support for democratic change in the Middle East than we are of an oil embargo.

Zbigniew Brzezinski in the NY Times: The Wrong Way to Sell Democracy to the Arab World

There is a suspicion - not only among the Arabs but also among the Europeans whose support the U.S. is seeking - that the sudden focus on democracy has been promoted by administration officials who wish to delay any serious American effort to push the Israelis and Palestinians to reach a genuine peace settlement. That suspicion was fueled by Vice President Dick Cheney's recent remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The spread of democracy, Cheney said, was "the precondition for peace and prosperity in Western Europe" after World War II. He went on to assert that democratic reform "is also essential to a peaceful resolution of the longstanding Arab-Israeli dispute." Cheney's argument that democracy is the precondition for peace appeared to many to be a rationalization for postponing any effort to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.