Democracy Promotion Needs a Plan of Action
|Saturday, August 25,2007 09:19|
|By Shadi Hamid|
Matt Yglesias, referring to the failure of the Bush "freedom agenda," gets it right:
Circa early 2005, President Bush"s rhetoric on democracy was wonderful (Michael Gerson is a great speechwriter). But the gap between rhetoric and actual policy was never bridged. I"m a believer in the necessity of "vision," but a vision that stays merely on the level of sentiment, of something to be wished and hoped for, is a vision that is doomed to fail. A vision, to succeed, needs more than a declaration of intent; it requires follow-through. It requires actionable items. It requires policies. Bush claimed he wished to end tyranny. But how? The "how" of it all was never addressed in any serious way. With that said, where I may disagree with Yglesias is on the presciptive side. He says:
Actually, I don"t think it"s nearly as "unclear" as Matt suggests. Democracy promotion is difficult, but on some points (assuming you endorse the objective), it is actually quite clear what should be done. Each year, we give close to 2 billion dollars of economic and military aid to Egypt, one of the most repressive dictatorships in the region. The least we could do, and the least the Bush administration should have done, was move towards making aid to Egypt conditional on political reform. Egypt would have to demonstrate that it is making progress on various indicators, among them respect for opposition rights, protection of civil liberties, freedom to form and join political parties, and judicial independence. This is not asking that much. It"s not asking that Egypt become a democracy tomorrow. It"s simply asking that Egypt, if it would like to continue receiving me and Matt"s tax dollars, has to start making some progress on reform.