Friday, February 01, 2008

HRW charges that matue democracies too readily embrace the democracy charade by autocrats.

I have spent half of the last year and a half in the Arab world. Based on my experiences during that time, if there is any topic that consistently provokes the charge of hypocrisy against the U.S. it is rhetoric by George Bush and his acolytes promoting "democracy". The really sad part of the story is that when the Bush adminstration embraced democracy and reform as a policy goal there really was a vibrant and important debate in Arab intellectual circles about democratization. Now, there is only cynicism and derison, made all the worse in January 2008 by George Bush's sojourn to Egypt, Israel, Palestine and the Gulf.

2008 Report: Democracy Charade Undermines Rights (Human Rights Watch World Report 2008, 31-1-2008): "States claiming the mantle of democracy, including Kenya and Pakistan, should guarantee the human rights that are central to it, including the rights to free expression, assembly and association, as well as free and fair elections. But in 2007 too many governments, including Bahrain, Jordan, Nigeria, Russia and Thailand, acted as if simply holding a vote is enough to prove a nation “democratic,” and Washington, Brussels and European capitals played along, Human Rights Watch said. The Bush administration has spoken of its commitment to democracy abroad but often kept silent about the need for all governments to respect human rights."

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