Is Mideast Democratization a Favor to America?

(Jerusalem Post) Barry Rubin - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab countries have rejected the U.S. plan for Mideast democratization before reading it. It is not hard to understand why the leaders of dictatorial regimes in which power and wealth are monopolized by a small group do not want to cede their privileges. This is how dictatorships everywhere have always worked. Arab leaders say nothing can change unless the Arab-Israeli conflict is resolved, but Arab states ensure that it is not resolved by refusing compromise, backing terrorism, and letting Arafat sabotage any chance for progress. Yet what possible connection does this issue have with a better educational system, fair elections, freer speech, and less corruption in the Arab world? Are Arab regimes doing the U.S. a favor if they consider treating their own people better? Is reform a favor to America for which some price should be extracted? The truly important issue is not what U.S. policy should be on promoting democratization but rather the policy of the Arab rulers. Secretary of State Powell is right: Change must come from the inside, and that is exactly why there isn't going to be any for a long time. The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA).

2004-03-05 00:00:00

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