Monday, March 27, 2006

Beyond the two-asprin theory of democracy: The Freedom to Describe Dictatorship

George Bush seems sometimes to subscribe to the two aspirin at bedtime theory of democracy, as though all he needs to do is wait until morning for the patient to be transformed, but if he is really serious about promoting reform, not to mention democracy, in places like Egypt he needs to be applying unrelenting care to the problem. One senses that he has lost his enthusiasm for "curing" his patient.
The Freedom to Describe Dictatorship: "The problem, Kassem says, is that once his reelection was secured and accepted by Washington, Mubarak froze the reforms. Though he promised a long list of political and economic liberalizations before the election, not one has been implemented in the six months since. Instead, Mubarak has imprisoned his chief liberal opponent, Ayman Nour, on bogus criminal charges; postponed scheduled municipal elections; and refused to legalize the centrist political parties that might provide an alternative to his regime and the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood. Kassem says he fears the 77-year-old president plans to die in office without leaving either a successor or a democratic mechanism for choosing one.
Ask him for a remedy, and once again he doesn't hedge. 'The United States has to continue pressuring,' he says. 'We're all willing to accept a controlled process of reform under Mubarak. But leave him alone and he won't do it.'"

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