Empty Promises of Freedom

(New York Times) - Fawaz A. Gerges From field research in Arab countries over the last few years, it's clear that people in the Middle East want democracy. Thousands of courageous Muslims have paid dearly for speaking out against state oppression and religious fanaticism and for demanding political enfranchisement. These democrats hold the key to the Arab world's future and deserve America's support. It's also clear that Arab autocrats - even those who woo the West with democratic language - won't do anything unless they're nudged and pushed. President Bush and his senior aides spent most of their meeting last month with the leaders of Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia pressing them to fight terrorism. What they should have been talking about was the importance of promoting democracy and reform. If America wants to end terrorism, it needs to understand that, ultimately, democracy and respect for human rights and the rule of law are the most effective ways to undermine extremism.

2003-07-18 00:00:00

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