I would like to hear what those most vehement in their opposition to the policies of GW Bush have to say about this. it would seem to have everything they favor: multilateralism, promotion of modernization and democracy through non-military means, promoting change through incentives and rewards rather than through force or threats. What is there to object to in this policy? It should make EVERYONE happy:
- The Bush administration has launched an ambitious bid to promote democracy in the “greater Middle East” that will adapt a model used to press for freedoms in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
Senior White House and State Department officials have begun talks with key European allies about a master plan to be put forward this summer at summits of the Group of Eight nations, NATO allies and the European Union, U.S. officials say. With international backing, the United States then hopes to win commitments of action from Middle Eastern and South Asian countries.
“It’s a sweeping change in the way we approach the Middle East,” said a senior State Department official. “We hope to roll out some of the principles for reform in talks with the Europeans over the next few weeks, with specific ideas of how to support them.”
Details are still being crafted. But the initiative, scheduled to be announced at the G-8 summit hosted by President Bush at Sea Island, Ga., in June, would call for Arab and South Asian governments to adopt major political reforms, be held accountable on human rights — particularly women’s empowerment — and introduce economic reforms, U.S. and European officials said.
As incentives for the targeted countries to cooperate, Western nations would offer to expand political engagement, increase aid, facilitate membership in the World Trade Organization and foster security arrangements, possibly some equivalent of the Partnership for Peace with former Eastern Bloc countries.
….It also seeks to avoid appearing to dictate to the Islamic world.
“The idea is not to come out with proposals that say, ‘This is how the West thinks you guys should live,’ ” a senior administration official said. “This can’t be seen as telling these guys what to do. That won’t work. It is instead about saying, ‘We hear voices in the greater Middle East region who want democracy and reform, and here are the things we can do to support them.’ ”
….The administration’s general goal is to put meat on the bones of Bush’s call for political change throughout the Islamic world, outlined in two speeches last fall at the National Endowment for Democracy and in London, U.S. officials say. [Washington Post]
the plan also learns from the past and takes into account the dangers of democratization leading to the tyranny of theocracy:
- “We also expect to hear warnings of Islam emerging stronger in the region if countries democratize,” he added. “But we recognize the danger of too rapid democratization. We want to see steady progress over a period of time — and we want to build in checks in the system.”
….The concept of promoting a “Middle East Helsinki” has long been discussed in U.S. and European think tanks, but the administration’s idea has received a huge boost in recent weeks. Yesterday, Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, gave a speech in Munich calling on NATO to establish a partnership plan that would help Middle East militaries with tasks such as peacekeeping, counterterrorism, military reform and civilian control of the military.
Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), a Democratic presidential candidate, said last month that as president he would establish a Helsinki-type organization in the Middle East that would “assist with civil society and political party development, monitor elections and manage crises.”
AND, it’s bipartisan too.