Democracy and the Middle East George W. Bush's Liberal Legacy

Suddenly it seems everyone knew all along that President Mubarak was a villain and the US, who supported him until recently, was even worse. However it was actually former President George W. Bush who always believed in the democratization of the Muslim world and was broadly ridiculed by the Left for his convictions.

A Commentary by

Former U.S. President George W. Bush taken at his book signing in December 2010.
AP

Former U.S. President George W. Bush taken at his book signing in December 2010.


The West, it seems, is guilty. It is good to get that cleared up. Wherever there is an outpouring of public rage, as is happening now in the Arab world, censure must fall on America, the great Satan. The US is always in the dock. When indignation is required, one simply cannot go wrong by blaming the US. And Israel too of course, but only as a follow-up by those in enlightened circles who like to take history into consideration.

The current accusation is that the US supported the corrupt regime in Egypt and thus betrayed its values.

Aside from the fact that the Germans never have to resort to abandoning their principles because they do not play any significant role in foreign affairs, it must be said that this is, unfortunately, the way realpolitik operates. Whoever represents the interests of the free world cannot be too choosy about his allies or he could end up alone.

The free world has fewer friends outside Europe than it would care to admit. It would obviously be desirable to work exclusively with governments who share our democratic beliefs. That would only leave Israel in the region that we are currently watching with such fascination, as only Israel guarantees full, Western human rights to its citizens, including women, homosexuals and dissidents. But somehow that would also not be right.

A Shift in Liberal Sympathies

The sympathies of many honorable, left-thinking people do not currently lie with the Israelis, who grant the Arab inhabitants in their midst much more freedom than all the neighboring states combined. Astoundingly, their sympathies lie with the Muslim Brotherhood in the surrounding countries, a movement that hates homosexuals, keeps women covered and despises minorities. This is puzzling.

One would surely have been inclined to believe the accusations earlier if the outrage over Dictator Hosni Mubarak and his despotic regime had emerged before now.

There has not been one trace of a report about the dark side of the now-faltering Egyptian regime by the largest German TV stations, ARD and ZDF. And what exactly do they mean by "dictator"? Isn't the man still respectfully called "President Mubarak" in the German press, from the left-leaning Die Tageszeitung to the center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung? It seems that realization can come late in journalism as well, and all the more forcefully as a result.

Now there are demands for a value-driven foreign policy, which resolutely stands up for global human rights. That sounds good -- indeed, who could argue with such a policy? What is strange, however, is that the same people who are vehemently demanding more idealism were, until very recently, chastising the US for turning away from the principles of realpolitik.

Bush's Belief in Islamic Democratization

Painful as it may be to admit, it was the despised former US President George W. Bush who believed in the democratization of the Muslim world and incurred the scorn and mockery of the Left for his conviction.

Everyone was sure -- without knowing any Muslims -- that the Western model of democracy could not be applied in a backward society like Iraq. Everyone knew that the neo-conservative belief in the universal desire for freedom and progress was naïve nonsense. It is possible that the critics were right, albeit for the wrong reasons. The prospect of stability and order seems to be at least as important to many people.

We can only hope that the desire for freedom will triumph in the end. Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood have also put the blame on the US and Israel, though in the reverse order. To them, Mubarak is a "Zionist agent" and should therefore be destroyed like the Zionists; next in line are the "helpers" from the US.

As for the actual revolution, it appears that the Arab youth are not taking to the streets to burn US flags and call for the death of Israel, but to overthrow their own government.

It remains to be seen how long that continues.

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BTraven 02/08/2011
1.
Bad luck for the Egyptians that they were not ruled by a dictator who aimed to inflict damage to the States whenever he would have had the opportunity since it would have launched a worldwide campaign with the goal to topple him and to implement democratic structures by Bush. For every country which wants to become democratic the basic role says that it should choose a leader who declares the States an enemy. A good way to do it is to nationalise the oil industry and to introduce some social benefits. America will fight back, of course. It’s a pity that Egypt was governed by a despot who was close friends with Bush. That friendship was quite lucrative. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/06/private-estate-egypt-mubarak-cronies
norskedivision 02/10/2011
2.
Zitat von BTravenBad luck for the Egyptians that they were not ruled by a dictator who aimed to inflict damage to the States whenever he would have had the opportunity since it would have launched a worldwide campaign with the goal to topple him and to implement democratic structures by Bush. For every country which wants to become democratic the basic role says that it should choose a leader who declares the States an enemy. A good way to do it is to nationalise the oil industry and to introduce some social benefits. America will fight back, of course. It’s a pity that Egypt was governed by a despot who was close friends with Bush. That friendship was quite lucrative. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/06/private-estate-egypt-mubarak-cronies
Oh, you mean like Iran in 1953, which was overthrown by a coup motivated by British interests. By the way, Bush was publicly cordial to Mubarek, but privately was always pushing for liberalization and funded democracy initiatives to this effect, something Egypt protested. The European hostility to America is interesting. This article is an exception, and is very good! But for the most part, posters like the one I'm replying to over estimate America's political muscle, and resent it. They over estimate it by assuming that America can tell Mubarek what to do - we can't. But they also resent America for the amount of political muscle they like to imagine that we have.
BTraven 02/17/2011
3.
Zitat von norskedivisionOh, you mean like Iran in 1953, which was overthrown by a coup motivated by British interests. By the way, Bush was publicly cordial to Mubarek, but privately was always pushing for liberalization and funded democracy initiatives to this effect, something Egypt protested. The European hostility to America is interesting. This article is an exception, and is very good! But for the most part, posters like the one I'm replying to over estimate America's political muscle, and resent it. They over estimate it by assuming that America can tell Mubarek what to do - we can't. But they also resent America for the amount of political muscle they like to imagine that we have.
Sorry for having overlooked your answer. You are right. Mosaddeg mistake was to nationalize the oil industry. I think the States were involved in the complot. Another conflict in which European countries played a leading role was the Suez Crisis. I do not have any hostility to America, however, I cannot stand the dishonesty with which the author argues since he was not even able to mention a speech in which Bush had criticised the violation of human rights in Egypt. That is quite poor.
esperonto 02/22/2011
4. politically correct
I have always favored inaction and neutrality. Even as a very young American, I was known amongst friends for being non-aggressive and non-side-taking. For that reason, as natural disposition, I have always hated US intervention overseas. Just the idea of the USA going out into other nations annoys me. Even Bush's idea of bringing Democracy is more intervention. Want to bring democracy to dictatorships? Stop giving them billions in aid dollars each year. Just the idea that the nation I am from is donating out so much money overseas is very annoying. Sadly, many American liberals, unlike me, believe in Manifest Destiny of the USA, and that like religious witnesses, it is the responsibility of the USA to "bring democracy" to other lands - like trying to convert people to Christianity. Indeed, along with the Democracy prophets abroad, there are often Protestant "witnesses", some of whom are killed by enraged Muslims, that flake around in developing nations. The meanwhile others scout for the treasures buried under the sand, which can become more available once "Anglo-Democracy" is established, American and British style. Its all really still a form of covert Colonialism. Originally colonialism was more honest. You came, you colonized, the workers stripped rubber off the trees and boiled it for you, and you got rich. Why they make now a pretext of Democracy I am not sure - perhaps to be politically correct. Some people said I should leave the USA, because my psychological state is counter to America. That is a conservative or European view. Conservatives and Europeans try to analyze one's mentality to fit one into groups and categories. I will live wherever I want, even if my "psychology" clashes with locals. I am sick of people and their whining psychological bullshit: "You have to get the mentality of the USA, you have to get the mentality of Europe and conform. You have to live here or there if you think this or that way". Whatever...
esperonto 02/22/2011
5.
Zitat von BTravenSorry for having overlooked your answer. You are right. Mosaddeg mistake was to nationalize the oil industry. I think the States were involved in the complot. Another conflict in which European countries played a leading role was the Suez Crisis. I do not have any hostility to America, however, I cannot stand the dishonesty with which the author argues since he was not even able to mention a speech in which Bush had criticised the violation of human rights in Egypt. That is quite poor.
Mosaddeg had every right to nationalize the oil industry in Iran, after all Iran is not the property of England or the CIA. I wrote about this elsewhere. The Dulles brothers, who were against democracy, helped the British Raj oust a perfectly good democratic leader, an upperclassman at that, one who disliked Socialism, but sought to aid his nation's economy through *the horror!* nationalizing his own oil! Apparently he didnt realize that the British never ever give up, and that they could control the corrupt CIA to help usurp Mosaddeg. Sadly, now Iran is under a dictator that we in the west despise. Strange, nobody thinks back and says: "Had we just let them have their own oil and property of land, and let them keep their own democratically elected leader, they might be a democracy today". Instead, the US govt. has been engaged and cooperating with British Colonial interests. The USA fought a revolution against British Colonial interests in North America. Any complicity with British Colonial interests in Africa or Asia is high treason. The Dulles Bros should have been capitally punished along with Eisenhower, who strangely enough even resembled Winston Churchill. Were they related? Eisenhower looks like the skinny version.
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