Thursday, May 05, 2005

Biden on The Spread of Democracy

Senator Biden weighs in on the spread of democracy, and how George Bush does not deserve credit, expressing views similar to those we recently reported from Wesley Clark. Here's a portion of his article in Washington Monthly:

I believe an enlightened American foreign policy, along with a little luck and a lot of perseverance, can help ensure that these developments will be remembered as seminal moments in a historic chain of events leading to a new era in the region. But it's important not just politically, but also for the sake of sound policy, for us to remember accurately and honestly what happened and why.

If we have reached a true tipping point, it seems to have been generated by recent events that had little or nothing to do with the Iraqi invasion: Arafat's death, the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, terror attacks in Saudi Arabia, and the increasingly vocal protests in Egypt. And in Iraq, while it cannot be denied that the invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein was a necessary precondition, it was Ayatollah Sistani who insisted on early elections against the wishes of the White House. President Bush decided to accede to Sistani's wishes and deserves kudos for showing firmness in sticking to the schedule.

Pro-democracy movements were underway throughout the Middle East before the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon directed America's attention to the region's political developments. Bahrain, Turkey, Iran, and Jordan all saw different forms of democratic progress. No doubt, the elections in Afghanistan and Iraq have contributed enormously to the increasingly optimistic pro-democratic mood.

At the same time, other repercussions of our unilateral invasion and occupation may have had the opposite effect. The level of anti-American sentiment in the Middle East has skyrocketed, and a new generation of terrorists has been trained in the art of guerrilla warfare on the streets of Iraq. We may still succeed in Iraq; indeed, I believe we must. But our mishandling of the Iraq occupation has also allowed autocrats in the region to use the post-Saddam chaos as justification for denying their people more freedom. They say, "With us, life is stable and predictable. Without us, we will reap the whirlwind. Without us, radical fundamentalists will take our place."


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