October 17, 2003

Drop the ball

The Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Egypt have all made tiny moves towards a more democratic method of government.

Such steps are encouraging in a region for the most part run by dictators who keep their people under tight control. But the Middle East has seen encouraging signs before that did not develop into democratic reform, and there's reason to believe the most recent events also may only offer false hope.

Except that this time there is one major difference. Nothing says "I'm serious about this" quite like thoroughly kicking the ass of the neighborhood bully, and then sticking around and challenging all-comers to bring it on. For all the whining and breast-beating going on, one thing remains certain - the United States is again respected. And that means people listen to what we have to say.

I'm hopeful, but wary. The US scored similar and significant victories in South and Central America in the 80's and 90's as many countries established democratic governments. Unfortunately, a lot of those gains have been squandered, at least partially due to US neglect of the region. Democracy is robust, and the situation is complex and fluid as both sides try to gain the upper hand, often using the same democratic institutions at hand. Venezuela is a perfect example of this, as pro-Castro president Chavez fights in the courts and polls to remain in power even as he tries to install a socialist regime.

We need to stay involved in the Middle East. We need to get reinvolved in the Americas. If we're going to lead the way towards the form of government that we believe is best for everyone (in the capitalist sense), then we can't afford to drop the ball again.

Posted by Ted at October 17, 2003 07:35 AM
Category: Politics
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