Saturday, September 17, 2005

Bush's Call for Freedom: Promise or Threat?

At a dinner this past Wednesday, celebrating "Jewish Life in America," Bush proclaimed:

Our two nations have a lot in common, when you think about it. We were both founded by immigrants escaping religious persecution in other lands. We both have built vibrant democracies. Both our countries are founded on certain basic beliefs, that there is an Almighty God who watches over the affairs of men and values every life. These ties have made us natural allies, and these ties will never be broken. (Applause.)

Earlier today, I met in New York with Prime Minister Sharon and the Ambassador. I admire Prime Minister Sharon. He's a man of courage; he's a man of peace. (Applause.) Once again, I expressed this nation's commitment to defending the security and well-being of Israel. (Applause.) I also assured him that I will not waver when it comes to spreading freedom around the world. I understand -- (applause) -- I understand this, that freedom is not America's gift to the world; freedom is an Almighty God's gift to each man and woman and child in this world. (Applause.) [emphasis mine]

So far, so good. I mean, after all, how can you argue with "I will not waver when it comes to spreading freedom around the world"? Every country deserves to live free from oppression, whether it is the oppression of its own rulers or from other countries.

No argument there.

But, as Instapundit has often noted, democracy is a process, not an event. The election of Abbas was quite an 'event', noted for irregularities and corruption by Jeff Jacoby, Myths and Facts and the Jerusalem Post. But what about the process that follows?

The point was made by the Iraqi Blog Democracy in Iraq:

If they want a new future, they have to start new. I honestly dont know how they can do this, but my hope is that other nations can somehow help them like they have helped us. They should make a peace period with Israelis, maybe Israelis can help them? I dont think this is realistic though honestly, because there is too much hatred between Israeli and Palestinian. (emphasis mine)

But has the US helped the Palestinian Arabs in the same way they have helped Iraq? Sure, the money was (and continues to be) given, but why is it that in Abbas' case, the US is acting so differently in implementing its plan for "spreading freedom around the world".

The US has made a point of being actively involved in advising Iraqis on the steps to take towards developing their constitution and government. So the question is whether in the case of the Palestinian Arabs--who unlike Iraq have no history, background, or experience in running a country--have US advisors accomplished or changed anything, or have the same corrupt resources and infrastructure already in place been used to put together Abbas' government?

Why is it that in Iraq Bush puts Saddam's cronies on playing cards and hunts them down while when it comes to the PA, he encourages Arafat's former cronies to hold positions of power and supports them?

Back in June 2002, Bush called for new Palestinian leadership:

I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty. If the Palestinian people actively pursue these goals, America and the world will actively support their efforts. If the Palestinian people meet these goals, they will be able to reach agreement with Israel and Egypt and Jordan on security and other arrangements for independence.

And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbors, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East.
(emphasis mine)

Are those leaders uncompromised by terror? Does anyone associate the words 'democracy', 'tolerance', or 'liberty' with the PA?

Freedom is a process, not a steamroller. If in his blind rush to spread democracy Bush is willing to blindly empower a group--led and patrolled by terrorists--that seeks and inculcates the destruction of the very country it is supposed to be living in peace with well, then, Bush's promise not to "waver when it comes to spreading freedom around the world" may very well be not a promise, but a threat: a threat to Israel and everything Bush claims to be trying to achieve.

As Diana West writes in the Washington Times:

The fact that burning synagogues failed even to singe the secretary of state's assessment of diplomatic success and effective statecraft is nothing less than chilling. But maybe it reflects our arrival at a cold, new reality that calls into question administration attitudes toward long-standing American motives and goals in the Middle East.

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