Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Democratic reform...

Rami Khouri, the editor of The Daily Star,the Middle East's leading English-language newspaper, was on Charlie Rose tonight.

He is excited to see greater involvement in studying the development of Middle-East democracy, even more so because of the collaborative relationship between American and Arab scholars in many of these studies. There has been plenty of talk about democracy in the middle-east, perhaps now it will be looked at as a serious policy goal and not simply a throw-away political line in a speech.

Khouri also wanted to emphasize the existence of domestic groups working for democratic reform in these countries. The U.S. is not going to walk in and plant democracy, it must grow up from the people. Effective U.S. help will be difficult to enact, however. While democratic initiatives can be quite popular, signs of U.S. collaboration can kill a program before it can get off the ground.

The most effective way the U.S. can support these nascent democratic movements would be to actually follow through on their condemnation of anti-democratic practices. The U.S.'s increasingly close relationship with the government of Darfur and Bush's widely-publicized nuzzling with Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia do not inspire great confidence for reformers in the middle-east.

The Bush administration would do well to take the advice of the democracy-minded individuals in the middle-east.

- Murphy

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