What can you expect from the Washington establishment. For years the Washington Post and its regular columnists have been spouting pseudo-liberal jargon about the Middle East, backing apartheid-like 'peace plans', and even now refusing to realize both where we have really so sadly been and where we are so tragically going. The idea that the U.S. is now the true champion of 'democracy in the Middle East' after many decades supporting the very regimes now being criticized, is truly ludicrous. As for 'pygmies', they reside, admittedly in drag, more comfortably among the Washington power elite -- politicians and journalists alike -- as well as among the 'client regime leaders' the US continues to prop up in the region amidst the fiendously deceptive drone of 'democracy' for all.
The Mideast's Political Pygmies
By Jim Hoagland
[Washington Post Op Ed Page; 1 August 2002): In a time of Middle Eastern turmoil that calls for giants of spirit and of
vision, the region is afflicted with pygmies who cannot see beyond their own
immediate interests. They capitulate to moral obtuseness shaped by decades of
conflict and corruption.
The Bush administration -- more by circumstance than design -- has come to a
giant-sized ambition for the region: Washington now anchors its plans for the
removal of Iraq's Saddam Hussein and for the creation of an independent,
responsible Palestinian state in an American commitment to promoting
democracy in the Middle East. That noble goal justifies the expenditure of
American treasure, effort and perhaps lives in the region.
This is progress in at least one way: President Bush and his advisers
implicitly acknowledge that the removals of Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat
are necessary but not sufficient conditions for stabilizing the Middle East.
What and who follows them is vital to American interests. It must not be left
to chance. I would add: It must not be left to the pygmies, either.
The administration cannot rely on local leaders who show no commitment to
democratic change to be the instruments of that change. Nor can it rely on a
now-discredited peace process to overcome the political hatreds and cultural
backlash that roil the region. Only a level and clarity of American
commitment to democratic change that forces choices upon reluctant partners
will calm an ever more deadly conflict.
We are not there. President Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell have yet
to demonstrate they can agree with each other on the hows and whens of
achieving peace in the Middle East. They seem to follow rather than to lead
when they deal with Israel's Ariel Sharon, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Saudi
Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah and their colleagues.
In that confused atmosphere, meetings about meetings have proliferated and
replaced action. Arab rulers travel to the White House every few weeks to
plead with Bush to do something that will chase images of Israeli-Palestinian
slaughter off the television screens of the Arab world. The dream of evasion
-- not of democracy or a better life for their subjects -- is the goal of the
autocratic dynasties of the Arab world.
Israel meanwhile sinks deeper into an understandable but dangerous rage over
suicide bombers and their glorification in Palestinian society. Israel's
military establishment "is angry in a way that it has never been angry
before, in any previous war," Israel's premier defense analyst, Zeev Schiff,
says with open concern. "The result is that when the location of the head of
the military wing of Hamas becomes known, the decision not to let him slip
away" -- by dropping a one-ton bomb in a crowded Gaza area -- "is made,
whatever the consequences." It becomes a technical matter decided by
Down this road lies greater loss of control and greater disaster. Washington
cannot simply wait until the time is right for action against Saddam Hussein
or until Arafat keels over. Only pygmy-sized visions are coming from
America's traditional partners in the region. These leaders must be
challenged rather than comforted or coddled.
This is particularly true of the Arab regimes that receive special treatment
from Washington but do not even offer lip service to Bush's stated goals.
Egypt's sclerotic government has been raking in more than $2 billion a year
in U.S. economic aid for two decades and wasting much of it. The regime
demonstrated its growing anti-democratic drift with the sentencing this week
of Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a democracy advocate and a dual Egyptian-American
citizen, to seven years in jail on trumped-up charges. Bush cannot
simultaneously ignore this outrage, enlist Egypt to help clean up the
Palestinian Authority and champion democracy in the Middle East. He must
choose, and make Egypt choose.
The administration will also have the opportunity this month to support
Palestinian and Iraqi groups that are committed to democratic change rather
than to autocracy as usual. A meeting of anti-Hussein organizations in
Washington should showcase and offer support to Iraqis such as Ahmed Chalabi
who have fought for democracy rather than for power.
The State Department should also push for the inclusion of grass-roots
Palestinian organizations, such as Omar Karsou's Democracy in Palestine, at
the scheduled Aug. 19 conference of international donors of economic aid for
Palestine. Breaking the monopoly that Arafat's corrupt Palestinian Authority
has established on aid funds is a key step to beginning the change that Bush
and others have promised.