November 10, 2003
BUSH SPEECH ON MIDEAST DEMOCRACY
** Euro, Asian writers call
Bush's NED speech "visionary" but see idealism and reality clashing.
** Arab, Pakistani papers
declare democracy can't "be promoted" from outside.
** Muslim analysts say war
in Iraq, support for Israel belie Bush's commitment to democracy.
A 'remarkable' speech, but is the vision practical?-- Dailies in Europe and Asia praised President
Bush's speech before the National Endowment for Democracy as
"remarkable" and "almost visionary in large parts." Writers lauded the President's
"ambitious" goal of spreading democracy as well as the
"self-criticism" of the "traditional U.S. policies of supporting
dictatorial regimes in the Middle East."
Britain's independent Financial Times held that "it is good
for the U.S. to be telling those on the streets of the Arab and Muslim world
that it is on the side of their freedoms, even if that upsets some of their
autocratic rulers." This should
help reduce Muslims' impression U.S. policy is driven by oil or that it has
begun "a civilizational crusade against Islam." But a liberal Australian broadsheet expressed
the common observation that closing "the yawning gap between idealism and
'realpolitik' is questionable" when U.S. interests are at stake, noting
that "Mr. Bush has put himself at odds with the realities of his 'war on
terrorism', which relies heavily on the cooperation of a string of autocratic
regimes in the Islamic world."
'Democracy is not a fast food'--
Arab and Pakistani commentators declared that "democracy is a
culture" that cannot be "promoted or injected into the blood of the
people." Democracy, according to
Qatar's semi-independent Al-Watan, is "a long process of practice,
experiences and pain." Even papers
that admitted "Muslim governments do not stand on high moral ground when
it comes to the treatment of their own peoples," like Pakistan's
center-left Dawn, maintained that "democracy cannot be thrust on a
country from the outside; it has to come from within through people's
pressure." Skeptics feared Bush was
using democratization as "a means of applying pressure on Arab
rulers" and claimed the speech "carried hints that America is getting
ready to target many Muslim countries on the pretext of democracy."
It's not the democratic message, it's 'the messenger'-- Arab papers, pointing to the U.S. war in Iraq
and Washington's support for Israel, said Bush lacked "credibility"
to speak about democracy. Middle East
nations, though "really hungry for freedom," said Lebanon's centrist Al-Anwar,
are "saturated with the U.S. policy of double standards, which is biased
towards Israel." A West Bank daily
said it was "inappropriate" for Bush to criticize the Palestinians
"for not having democracy" without acknowledging that "the
Israeli occupation has a big role in poisoning a promising Palestinian
democracy." A Jordanian paper added
that democracy "based on the model of the U.S. in Iraq or Zionism in
Palestine...is an insult to every Arab."
Another Jordanian daily concluded that with its "contradictions and
paradoxes," Bush's speech "will serve to fuel all those Arab forces
that reject democracy and reform in the first place."
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis is based on 44 reports from 21 countries, November 7-10, 2003. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
The independent Financial Times commented (11/7): "President George W. Bush yesterday
trumpeted anew his desire to see democracy spread across the globe, but
particularly in the area that most troubles his administration, the Middle
East.... Whatever one's doubts about the
practical feasibility of Mr. Bush's 'forward strategy', it is good for the U.S.
to be telling those on the streets of the Arab and Muslim world that it is on
the side of their freedoms, even if that upsets some of their autocratic
rulers. This should reduce the impression
that the U.S. regards the Middle East just as a giant filling station, or that
it has somehow embarked on a civilizational crusade against Islam.... For all Arabs--rulers and ruled--the U.S. is
open to the charge of hypocrisy for what they see as its endorsement of
Israel's wholesale abuse of Palestinian rights.
Peace in Palestine and Iraq would obviously increase Mr. Bush's moral
authority to preach. But, even short of that,
his message would carry more weight if he frankly addressed some of the trade-offs
he has made in favor of security over freedom, and promised to redress the
Patrick Sabatier took this view in left-of-center Liberation
(11/10): “The problem with the Bush plan
for expanding democracy is that it is not going according to plan. Afghanistan remains unstable; the Israelis
and Palestinians are at a bloody impasse; the guerrilla war in Iraq is more
deadly every day.... And al-Qaida is
undermining Saudi Arabia.... President
Bush may have to choose between his Saudi ally’s oil and his ‘democratic
revolution.’ The entire region has
become a battleground, while U.S. victory is far form certain. Defeat, although
improbable, cannot totally be dismissed, particularly if President Bush were to
conclude that the battles being fought weigh more against his re-election than
in favor of regional democracy.”
Wolfgang Koydl opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung
(11/9): “President Bush’s foreign policy
keynote speech is remarkable, and not only for its ambitious requests. What is more important is the self-criticism,
which he has tied to his demand for a global campaign of democratization. For Bush has admitted for the first time that
it were the cold-blooded politics of power and self-interests of the U.S. and
other western countries, which have withheld the fruits of legal and liberal
principles from the nations in the Middle East.... Bush’s insight may have come rather late,
however, it is important that he has gained it.
That the White House now understands the complex intertwining in the
Middle East a bit better shows the remark by the president that a democratic
and modern Middle East will not be a photocopy of the American
superpower.... These words showed Bush
to be a romantic as well as a political pragmatist. For he knows as well as the strategists in
Europe do that all previous attempts at catapulting the region out of the
spiral of hatred, poverty, and violence have failed.”
"Vision And Reality"
Wolfgang Guenter Lerch noted in center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine (11/7): "In a speech
that was almost visionary in large parts, the U.S. president found appealing
words for Islam.... Many Muslims will
certainly approve these words from Washington, since they indicate a learning
process. But they will wonder whether
and how the Americans are willing to practically promote such commitments and
insights. Islamic intellectuals who are
interested in democracy and pluralism--let alone the masses--justify,if necessary,
their suppressers because they consider Washington's policy arrogant and
one-sided. This is the main thing that
"Nice Empty Words"
Business daily Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg
argued (11/7): "We can George W.
Bush's foreign policy of many things but certainly not of one thing: A lack of vision and idealism. With yesterday's speech, President Bush again
emphasized his ambitious goals.... In
principle, his strategy is right. In the
long run, it can achieve much more than an alleged realism that understands
freedom, the rule of law, and democracy as a cultural characteristic of the
West that is, unfortunately, not suited for other regions in the world. The problem of Bush's project is that his
nice words hide a horrifying lack of concrete concepts and real
engagement. This emptiness was revealed
only recently in Iraq and the Middle East.
With a mixture of naiveté and cynicism, the Bush administration is about
to forfeit its credibility.... In the
Middle East, vigorous initiatives would be necessary, but the president cannot
risk them because of the upcoming presidential election campaign. In Afghanistan, which Bush praised as a new
model of freedom, the warlords have regained power over large parts of the
country...and in Iraq, the Americans are militarily and politically in a
dead-end street.... A central piece of
the U.S. strategy seems to continue to be the principle of hope. If Bush does not increase his commitment to
his great project, his idealism is not only naïve, but also highly
"Taking The Bull By The Horns"
Washington correspondent Michael Backfisch filed the following
editorial for business daily Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (11/7): "There is no doubt about it: President Bush is on the domestic policy
defensive...and his announcement to withdraw 30,000 U.S. soldiers by May shows
that all warning signals are flashing in the White House. And there is a reason why the President, with
yesterday's speech on his Middle East policy, is now taking the bull by the
horns.... Bush tried to place the Iraq
problem in a broader context in order to minimize it. And this indirectly reveals that the
government has not sufficiently explained the operation in the Gulf.... It is questionable whether Bush succeeded
with his speech in reducing uncertainty.
Those who constantly increase the ideological yardsticks are running the
risk of losing sight of the real trouble spots, like the one in Iraq. As long as there is no visible progress in
Iraq, such addresses are no more but rhetorical retouching."
Commitment: Democracy In The Middle
Ennio Caretto opined in centrist, top-circulation Corriere
della Sera (11/7): "[Speaking]
at the National Endowment for Democracy, George Bush challenged Middle Eastern
countries to give their citizens freedom and representation.... It was a dual message. On one hand, Bush...puts the responsibility
of eliminating Middle Eastern dictatorships and 'theocratic terrorism' on the
U.S..... On the other hand, he told
Americans and allies that he will not leave Baghdad because international
stability is at stake.... It was also a
promise that the superpower is ready to impose American peace at all costs, and
on its own: 'Just like in Greece in 1947 and later in Berlin,' he
warned.... Bush did not even once
mention the words UN or Israel.... This
crucial speech, which a century after World War I, shifts the focus of U.S.
foreign policy from Europe to the Middle East, is the president's response to
the growing criticism on the war in Iraq."
"Iraq, Bush Deserts The Funerals Of The Fallen"
Bruno Marolo commented in pro-democratic left party daily L'Unitá
(11/7): "George Bush's imagination
is flying high. Yesterday the President
compared the invasion in Iraq to the airlift in Berlin. 'Once again,' he said, 'the strength and the
will of free peoples are being put to the test: we will pass the test.' The 'historical' tone of the speech reflects
the seriousness of the moment. Bush had
to justify himself for continuing to gather millions of dollars for the
electoral campaign after the latest tragic reports from Baghdad, without a word
of solidarity for the victims' families.
He couldn't continue to remain silent, and so he took refuge in abstract
ideals to escape from the real difficulties.
He proclaimed a 'global democratic revolution', which has supposedly
begun in the Middle East with the fall of Saddam Hussein.... [If taken] literally, the speech seems to
announce other wars.... Part of the
President's speech sounded like direct warnings. The Iranian regime 'must give in to its
people's request for democracy.'...
Palestinian leaders are the 'main obstacle on the path to peace.' It is evident that the U.S. has too many
problems in Iraq for it to take on other military campaigns. The speech solely confirmed Bush's
disengagement from the Israeli/Palestinian peace process and his attempt to
dump the responsibility on one side only."
SPAIN: "Reality And
Left-of-center El País judged (11/8): "George Bush has affirmed that the
traditional U.S. policies of supporting dictatorial regimes in the Middle East
have failed.... Nothing is known of this
impulse to democracy, except that Washington will not try to impose its own
models on the Muslim world.... History
recalls that the U.S. has never stopped going back and forth between the
rhetoric of liberty and the crudeness of its interests. With insistent frequency, Washington's
policies, especially in the Middle East, is moved more by illusions than by
realities. Iraq is the latest and more
dramatic demonstration.... To review
some of the key events of the Middle East over the past 60 years...is to prove
how Washington has seen as perfectly compatible its self-perception as the beacon
of moral progress with its support for despotic regimes. Accordingly, the White House must start to
adapt its new strategy of freedom with its role in the contest between
Palestinian and Israelis."
TURKEY: "For Democracy
in the Middle East"
Yasemin Congar commented in mass appeal Milliyet
(11/10): "President Bush's speech
on November 6 was an important one. The
U.S. has always considered the Middle East as an exception to democratic
principles and ignored its oppressive regimes.
Yet in his speech, President Bush officially declared the end of
long-standing U.S. policy for the Middle East.... Unlike his predecessors, Bush has clearly
identified the countries in the Middle East--not only Syria and Iran, but also
U.S.-friendly countries such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia--that need
democratization.... Now this is the time
to look for deeds as well as words. We
shall see if Bush will take forceful measures against the Saudis and other
regimes in the area.... Iraq stands as a
litmus test for his remarks that democracy and Islam should live together and
that all peoples deserve to live free.
We shall see if Iraq will be successful enough to a new democratic state
order. We shall see if Washington will
provide enough political liberty for achieving that goal."
ISRAEL: "A Most Important
Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized
(11/9): "President George W. Bush
gave one of the most important speeches of his presidency. Bush is presiding over the greatest
restructuring of American foreign policy since Harry Truman set the foundations
of the policy of containment of the Soviet Union after World War II.... Speeches, brave and forthright though they
be, can only lay the groundwork. They
cannot suffice. The true test will be in
the implementation. Highlighting the
problem is clearly an essential first step, but the echoes of this speech must,
rather than being allowed to dissipate, be followed up by bold moves from the
general to the specific."
EGYPT: "Letter to President
Sensationalist independent weekly Al Osboa editor-in-chief
Mustafa Bakry wrote (11/10): "You
(President Bush) are in a democratic state...and others envy you that...[and]
you have just delivered an historic speech before the NED.... The entire world realizes your mad war
against Iraq was [waged] for personal reasons.... We realize your own devilish purposes and
that you are waging war for the sake of Israel.
We realize your malice against anything Islamic and even Christian, as
long as it is in the [Middle] East....
You should concentrate on your growing domestic problems and leave us
alone.... Our rulers should not let the
U.S. manipulate the Arab world and should provide freedom to the public."
"Bush And Spreading Democracy In Middle East"
Pro-government Al Ahram contributor Dr. Mohammed Noman
Galal judged (11/9): "Clearly,
Bush's speech indicated the realization by American leadership that democratic
development should take into consideration the specific nature of nations.... The speech is linked to practical plans taken
by Bush. He specified certain countries
by name...which means that U.S. assistance to Middle East countries will be
affected and, through its embassies, its media diplomacy will work on achieving
this purpose.... Undoubtedly, the speech
is the implementation of the U.S. national security strategy.... What will be the reaction of Middle Eastern
"Path Of Democracy"
Aggressive pro-government Al Akhbar columnist Ahmed Hassan
observed (11/9): "Naturally, Israel
was the first to welcome President Bush's call for democratization in the
Middle East and especially in Syria, Iran, Egypt and China.... It is likely that the speech was basically
directed at the American public to convince them that the U.S. is conducting a
divine mission abroad to protect Americans at home.... China did well when it responded to Bush's
call by telling him that it chooses its own democracy...and does not need
anyone to sketch its future for it."
Small circulation pro-government Al Gomhouriya
editor-in-chief Samir Ragab remarked (11/9):
"I salute President Bush for what he said about Egypt in his
speech.... Undoubtedly, the President
has heard of Egypt's firm belief in democracy...and the positive democratic
phenomenon that may not be available in many Western states.... How we wish President Bush's next speech, God
Willing, would tackle Israel's false democracy."
"The Democratic President George Bush"
Editor-in-chief Ibrahim Saada wrote in aggressive pro-government
weekly Akhbar Al Yom (11/8):
"In my opinion, this is the strangest speech of all U.S.
presidents.... His call for
democratization in the Middle East would have been accepted from any figure other
than the current U.S. president. Bush
said his country's policy in the Middle East failed over the past sixty
years.... We tell him that Arab policy
towards the U.S. has also been a failure...because Arabs trusted those who are
not worthy of this trust.... Our only
difference with the U.S. is that it has adopted Israel's mistakes and
transgressions.... What enrages Arabs
most is saying that the U.S. president is subject to the satisfaction of the
Jewish lobby...a silly pretext, which harms the U.S. itself.... Bush tried to deceive Arabs just as he
deceived his nation about Iraq.... If
some people in Egypt call for more democracy, this is their legitimate right in
a country which allows freedom of opinion.
However, they can never accept someone's interfering in the most
domestic of their affairs--especially President George Bush, Jr."
"National Democracy With No Tyrants Or Invaders"
Opposition Al Wafd columnist Salah Eissa held (11/8): "Bush admitted his country's support for
tyrannical regimes in the Middle East did not achieve regional security and
stability and even ignited feelings of deprivation and oppression, created
anti-American feeling and nourished terrorism.... The admission is too late.... It is good the American president admits his
country's fault, but it is even better that he promises to stop this policy.... However, it is not good that he promises to
support democracy in the region....
Nations which fought for freedom over the past sixty years...can create
their own national democratic program and without resorting to tyrants or
WEST BANK: "Bush
Hasan Al-Batal commented in independent Al-Ayyam
(11/9): “The only way for Palestinians
to achieve democracy is through peace.
We completely agree in principle [with President Bush’s speech on
democracy for the Middle East], but without freedom [for Palestinians], there
will be no democracy. So it was
inappropriate for President Bush to criticize the Palestinians for not having
democracy. It is also unacceptable for
Bush to pick on the Palestinian democracy by praising the democratic
initiatives in Jordan, Oman, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia who all are friends of
the U.S. How could that be? Even the Jews of Israel believe Palestine is
the second democratic country in the region....
Our concern as Palestinians, is that President Bush played on the
strings of ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ without making any single indication that
the Israeli occupation has a big role in poisoning a promising Palestinian
"And What Does Bush Say About The Blood Of Palestinian
Independent Al-Quds editorialized (11/8): “The response to President Bush and to those
who insist on denying the Palestinian people’s right of life and freedom should
be that we consider terrorism to be the constant killing of the Palestinian
people and the destruction of their [infrastructure]; it is the non-stop
support to the illegitimate occupation, which continues to commit crimes
against innocent civilians. The
Palestinian people with their leadership are still willing to work for a just
peace, which both Bush and Sharon failed to realize in this region. Therefore, the slogans of freedom, democracy,
human rights and peace that Bush takes pleasure in repeating on every occasion
are meaningless and lack genuine substance as long as this administration
continues to view the victimized Palestinian as terrorists.”
JORDAN: "Bush’s Speech
Prominent daily commentator Fahed Al-Fanek wrote in semi-official
influential Arabic daily Al-Rai (11/9):
“Bush’s speech outlines a political program, and the fact that he puts
Syria in the same category as pre-war Iraq is not comforting. But the question is, does the U.S. mean what
it says, or is this a means of applying pressure on Arab rulers to collaborate
further with the occupation against the wishes of their peoples? The U.S. knows well that these countries
would not have been able to support it in its occupation of Iraq had they been
"Jordan In The Revisionist Speech"
Leading commentator Uraib Al-Rantawi wrote in center-left,
influential Arabic daily Al-Dustour (11/9) “I cannot imagine why Bush referred to
Jordan's recent parliamentary elections as historic. If they produced results that the U.S. sees
as historic, how come we do not see that?...
No one should be comforted by Bush’s praise, partly because we still
need political reforms. For instance,
the U.S. should respect us more if we were to allow people to demonstrate
denouncing U.S. policy in the Middle East than if we were to repress the people
and prevent their freedom of expression.
Moreover, this transitional satisfaction with Jordan will never be
permanent, and we can learn the lesson from the ‘strategic alliances’ that many
capitals in the region had with Washington, and what has become of these
"Credibility That Is Collapsing On Hot Sand"
Liberal daily columnist Jamil Al-Nimri wrote in independent,
mass-appeal Arabic daily Al-Arab Al-Yawm (11/9): “What credibility does Bush have when he
pursues an insane policy that surprises all observers, and that has put the
U.S. in an unprecedented position, where all people of the world view its
policy with disapproval, even disdain.
What credibility does Bush have when he says not a word about Sharon’s
crimes in the Occupied Territories?”
"Bush The Preacher"
Taher Al-Adwan, chief editor of independent, mass-appeal Arabic
daily Al-Arab Al-Yawm wrote (11/8):
“Bush’s praise of democracy in Jordan means nothing, because it only
puts us in the company of a number of states whom he praised, even though
democratic reforms in them have yet to start.
This praise cannot cover the truth of what is happening in Iraq, such as
the destruction the arrests, and the terrorization of families in their
bedrooms. Democracy based on the model
of the U.S. in Iraq or Zionism in Palestine is nothing but corrupt goods that
will not find any takers. In fact it is
an insult to every Arab.”
LEBANON: "A Myth
Called 'Imperial Democracy'"
Rafiq Khoury maintained in centrist Al-Anwar (11/10): "The problem is not the democratic
message itself, but the messenger and his tools. Nations in the Middle East are really hungry
for freedom and this is a their natural right.
However, these nations are saturated with the U.S. policy of double
standards, which is biased towards Israel.
President Bush gave Sharon the 'freedom' to destroy and kill and bury
the road map under a racist barrier....
Furthermore, nations realize that any attempt to impose democracy by
force will eventually backfire in the sense that these regimes will become
increasingly radical and dangerous....
The Master of the White House has linked the U.S. national security to
democracy and prosperity in the Middle East....
However, the Arab experience with the U.S. has been bitter.... There is nothing in the world which is called
"Paradoxes In Bush's Speech:
A Democratic Revolution"
Hisham Melhem commented in Arab nationalist As-Safir
(11/10): "President Bush's
speech...about the co-existence of democracy and Islamic values in the Middle
East...reflects a realization and increasing frustration within political
official academic U.S. circles that the current situation n the Middle East can
no longer be tolerated...and that the U.S. should work on a new strategy to be
able to deal with the continuous impact of its war on terrorism and presence in
Iraq. However, it is apparent that
President Bush and other U.S. officials do not realize the huge challenges and
obstacles they would be facing by calling on a democratic change in the region,
and do not realize the historic political and moral U.S. responsibility for the
current bad situation in the region....
The speech includes a shy acknowledgment of the fact that the U.S.
policy towards the region the last 60 years has backfired...but it did not
include any practical solutions on how to spread democracy in the
region.... Bush's speech, with its
contradictions and paradoxes, with its simplicity and narrow-mindedness will
serve to fuel all those Arab forces that reject democracy and reform in the
first place. They will accuse Bush of
using the double standard policy again, noting that the U.S. ignores the fact
that democracy, freedom, and human rights will never include the Palestinians
in the shadow of the Israeli occupation.
Bush's speech is also not in harmony with the U.S. occupation of
"The Bush Of 'The
Sahar Baasiri had this to say in moderate, anti-Syrian An-Nahar
(11/7): "President Bush's words are
very attractive...but before they become tangible policies that deal with the
real problems, they will continue to be boring empty rhetoric.... Exposing the region's ills is useless. We already know them...and know about the
U.S.' participation in the problems of the region.... What is required is a realization that the
underlying problem continues to be Palestine and the obscene American bias
towards Israel and against Arabs, their interests and hopes.... If Bush is really serious, he has to return
Iraq to the Iraqis as soon as possible...and should try to reach a just
solution for the Palestinian cause."
"Bush And Democracy"
Aouni Al-Kaaki argued in pro-Syria Ash-Sharq (11/7): "No one expected President Bush to say
anything but what he said.... This is
not the first time he has exposed his plans to re-draw the region.... President Bush's speech only included wooden,
rigid, empty words. It was also full of
paradoxes: for example he praised
Bahrain and Oman for their democracy, despite the fact that they do not have
free elections and accused Syria and Iran of undemocratic practices despite the
fact that they have elections.... It is
impossible to impose democracy on any country with the force of fire.... Americans do not want a real democracy in
Iraq or any other country because they know that free democratic elections will
produce regimes that reject American policies."
QATAR: "Mr. Bush's
Al-Azab Al-Tayib observed in semi-independent Arabic Al-Raya
(11/9): "President Bush perfectly
diagnosed the Middle East illness which is the lack of democracy. Bush himself admitted that freedom should
come before stability. But Mr. Bush who
is trying to promote democracy is not democratic at all! The first lesson of democracy is that the
minority should respect the decision of the majority and that was not the case
at the UN...but Bush decided to go on and launch his war.... Bush is not democratic at all because he is
not objective at all on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Bush is not an honest mediator. And he wants us to adopt his democracy? What kind of democracy is it when forcefully
"Democracy Can't Be Promoted!"
Mazen Hamad remarked in semi-independent Arabic Al-Watan
(11/9): "Suddenly Mr. Bush
discovered that all American administrations in the last 60 years were
wrong. Bush found that the old motto
'Stability First' should be changed to 'Freedom First.' Bush discovered that after his invasion and
occupation of Iraq. We are back again to
the same old-new story, security or peace, withdrawal or stopping violence, all
kinds of questions that will bury you in details. Bush forgot that democracy cannot be promoted
or injected into the blood of the people.
Democracy is not a ready-made fast food meal; democracy is a long
process of practice, experiences and pain.
A Bush new suggestion about democracy is a clear proof of the failure of
the American administration in Iraq and in the Palestinian-Israeli issue. These new demands, which the Americans and
the Israeli are asking for, are nothing but scapegoats from all their
commitments toward the region."
SYRIA: "Democracy Of
Mufid Khansa, Acting Chief Editor of government-owned Al-Thawra
commented (11/8): "'This is an age
of freedom and democracy'. This how U.S.
President Bush stated it in his address, which is more like threats,
intimidation and challenges. It lacked
the slightest bit of democracy and objectivity.
Bush unleashed premade judgments imagining himself on the throne of
false democracy trying to spread it by force as he did in Iraq using military
occupation for any country rejecting his democratic model drawn by the
U.S.administration hawks who are strategic allies of Israel.... People in the region do not need lessons in
democracy and freedom because the whole world knows that it holds the oldest
civilizations.... The growing yarns
stirred up by the neoconservatives in the U.S. administration against the peoples
in the region, including everything consonant with the government of war in
Israel, lead to concern and require caution.
But they will not block dialogue with Washington...since it is in their
interest, and in the interest of the U.S., and of the world, as well as in the
interest of democracy and freedom.”
Haidar Haidar, a commentator in government-owned Al-Thawra
wrote (11/9): "President Bush wants
to convince more than 1.2 billion Arabs and Muslims that his administration's hostile
acts against them will lead to peace and prosperity! It is a twisted logic. Sweet talk about freedom and democracy is not
consistent with Washington's actual policy.
The Djerejian Advisory Group's report is obvious. It confirmed that Arab and Muslim feelings of
anger towards the U.S. are caused by the U.S. policies."
"We Don't Need Lessons"
Fouad Mardoud, chief editor of government-owned Syria Times,
remarked (11/9): "President Bush's
so-called 'drive for democracy in the Middle East' was an Israeli-inspired idea
aimed at widening the gap between Washington and the Arab and Muslim worlds, as
well as an attempt to divert Americans' attention from the quagmire in Iraq,
and the tragedy.... No one can rule out
that the Israelis, or to be more specific the U.S. Jewish lobby--stand behind
President Bush's hostile words against Arab and Muslim states. Even countries
like Egypt, whose relations with the U.S. have always been described as
friendly and warm, did not escape Bush's lash-out. President Bush also aimed to divert U.S.
attention from the U.S. crisis in Iraq and the increasing number of casualties
among U.S. forces. But the American
people, who see their sons shipped back in coffins from Iraq could not easily
divert their attention simply because their president reiterates his will to
continue wearing the uniform and aimlessly fighting in Iraq and other places in
the world. President Bush’s attempt to
promote democracy in the Middle East is false.
It contains good words, but hide evil goals. Arab and Muslim countries do not need lessons
on democracy from any one. More
important is the fact that democracy could not be brought by tanks and
Editor-in-chief Mohammed Ben Youssef commented in independent
French-language weekly newspaper Tunis-Hebdo (11/10): "Bush was not at all convincing during
his speech to the National Endowment for Democracy. He remained evasive, citing almost
insignificant examples except for the usual attacks against Syria, which has
become the punching bag of the hawks....
On the other hand, Bush welcomed the fact that Egypt chose peace with
Israel. For him, this is a real sign of
democracy, even if the Arab masses, taken as a whole, judged this a
'capitulation,' which cost the life of its promoter, Sadat. Pretty liberating speeches are one thing, the
reality on the ground another....
Democracy is a culture. It must
come from within each country, according to its specific needs."
Hatem Belhaj observed in independent French-language daily Le
Temps (11/8): "Stuck in a
political impasse of his own making, Bush, Jr., ever the contrary schoolboy,
tries to push all his Arab allies in the Middle East with his 'scarecrow' of
democracy American-style. In regards to
democracy, Bush should start with his own administration. 60% of Americans are against the presence
(and especially the massacre) of their soldiers in Iraq and yet Bush wants to
send 130 (sic) soldiers to Iraq next year.
Why didn't he follow the same democratic line during his election race
against Gore with the recount of votes in the Floridian fiefdom of his governor
brother? Once again, the West uses its
demagoguery to punish us. It is hateful
and abhorrent that the same principles of democracy do not apply to them."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
AUSTRALIA: "The New, New
The liberal Sydney Morning Herald editorialized
(11/10): “In a major policy shift last
week, Mr. Bush presented a sweeping vision of a U.S.-led 'global democratic
revolution.' At stake in Iraq is not
merely the liberty of the Iraqi people, but the global export of the ideology
of freedom, as defined by Mr. Bush's inner circle. This is no simple extension of his 'axis of
evil,' which singled out a handful of isolated, pariah states. Pointedly, Mr. Bush included China in the
company of such authoritarian regimes as Cuba, Zimbabwe, Burma, Syria, Iran,
Saudi Arabia and Egypt.... Mr. Bush's
patronizing tone will be most unwelcome in Beijing and will complicate
diplomacy in Asia. Key U.S. allies in
the region, including Australia, are seeking to balance their historic
allegiance to Washington with increasingly important ties to China.... 'In the long run, stability cannot be
purchased at the expense of liberty,' Mr. Bush declared...expressly repudiating
more than half a century of selectively indulging dictators in the Middle
East. Whether Mr. Bush can close the
yawning gap between idealism and 'realpolitik' is questionable. Immediately, Mr. Bush has put himself at odds
with the realities of his 'war on terrorism', which relies heavily on the
cooperation of a string of autocratic regimes in the Islamic world.“
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):
"Beyond The Rhetoric, Bush Voices Some Truths"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
contended (11/8): "The impassioned
call by George W. Bush for Arab nations to embrace democracy has predictably
been greeted with much skepticism in the Middle East. The speech comes at a time when the U.S.-led
invasion of Iraq and continued American support for Israel have deepened the
traditional mistrust of the U.S. among the Muslim peoples of the region. It will take more than talk of freedom to
heal the wounds.... If the U.S. really
wants to promote democracy in the Middle East, it will need to take concrete
steps to rebuild trust. This will
involve handing over control of Iraq to its people at the earliest
opportunity. If efforts to rebuild Iraq
fail, then the cause of democracy in the region will have been dealt a severe
blow. Regaining trust will also mean
getting the Mideast 'road map' back on track and doing so in a way that
demonstrates that both Israelis and Palestinians are given fair and equal
treatment. Preaching democracy is one
thing, helping bring it about is a much tougher, sophisticated and subtle
SOUTH KOREA: "Bush's
Dangerous 'Democratic Revolution' And Troop Dispatch"
The nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun
editorialized (11/8): "Criticism of
President Bush and his foreign policies runs high in most of the
world...especially because of the unilateral and illegal invasion and
occupation of Iraq by the U.S. and its imperialistic concept of reorganizing
the Middle East.... In this regard, Mr.
Bush's outspoken willingness...to more actively seek a 'democratic revolution'
in the Middle East in order to restructure the region, shows how much the Bush
administration, which is being led by a few hardliners, is losing its sense of
reality in pursuing foreign policies....
Mindful of next year's presidential election, the Bush administration is
pushing to cut back its forces in Iraq while enlisting the help of our troops
in order to continue with its aggressive Middle East policy. Does the government of President Roh intend to
participate in the U.S. scheme of 'democratic revolution' in the Middle
East? If not, it must immediately
withdraw its decision to send additional troops to Iraq."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Karachi-based center-left independent national English daily, Dawn
argued (11/8): "Obviously, Muslim
governments do not stand on high moral ground when it comes to the treatment of
their own peoples. But democracy cannot
be thrust on a country from the outside; it has to come from within through
people's pressure. If 60 years of
'accommodating' non-representative governments has not made America safe, it is
highly unlikely that a democratic Middle East will be a haven of peace if
Israel continues its occupation of Palestinian lands."
"President Bush Sings About Democracy"
The second largest Urdu daily Nawa-e-Waqt editorialized
(11/8): "On President Bush's speech
Reuters commented that 'it's a new justification for attack on Iraq....' Notwithstanding America's selfish and
self-serving attitude, President Bush pronouncement that support for
dictatorial regimes has failed is important.
In his speech he named Turkey, Indonesia and Sierra Leon as democratic
countries of the Islamic world. However,
he did not mention Pakistan in this respect.... The European Union and
Commonwealth have rejected our democracy in unequivocal terms. Now President General Musharraf's patron the
American president has not included Pakistan in the brief list of democratic countries.... Collectively, President Bush's speech was for
democracy and against dictatorship, but it is impossible to express
satisfaction about it. America has
always given importance to its interests and in order to get the result of its
choice, it always fully backed dictators.
America has never treaded the path of any moral code of conduct in this
respect. The speech carried hints that
America is getting ready to target many Muslim countries on the pretext of
democracy. Pakistan is one of these
"Increase In America's War Hysteria: Danger Bell For World Peace"
An editorial in the Karachi-based pro-Taliban/Jihad Urdu daily Islam
read (11/10): "The American
leadership has turned blind in its war hysteria. But it is also surprising that there is no
saner and more realistic force in the American parliament [sic] that could
prevent the U.S. from its 'suicide mission' against the Islamic world. The passage of the recent defense budget with
a vast majority suggests that the Americans as a nation were behind the
aggressive policies of President Bush that are aimed at targeting the Islamic
"Challenge Of American Imperialism Confronting Arab
The Karachi-based, right-wing pro-Islamic unity Urdu daily Jasarat
noted (11/8): "President Bush's
recent policy speech in which he has expressed his intention to transform the
Middle East into democracy is in fact yet another plan to uproot their
governments and to occupy those lands.
The U.S. wants to mete out the same treatment to Saudi Arabia and other
Arab countries as it did with Iraq."
Independent English language newspaper New Age
editorialized (11/8): "President
George W. Bush’s call at the national Endowment for Democracy in Washington for
pluralism to come into Middle East political processes is welcome.... The call for democracy should have come
earlier. If the Americans had, before
Iraq, tried to promote the philosophy that the whole Middle East should embrace
democracy, rather than one or two countries being forced to accept change
through outside military might, the case for Iraq might have made better sense.
That late realization, however, does not detract from the recognition of the
principle that democracy now needs to find its way into the region. The irony is that Middle Eastern nations in
need of democracy have been allied with the United States for as long as anyone
can remember. Which is why the Bush call
for democratic change cannot cause happiness among the ruling classes in these
societies. Indeed, the response to
President Bush’s call has been lukewarm, a sign of the discomfort the U.S.
leader has put his friends in. The
Middle East needs time to change. And it
needed that call from Washington.
Things, therefore, could begin to move, in however ponderous a
ZIMBABWE: "The Western
Web Of Deceit"
The government-controlled weekly Sunday News editorialized
(11/9): “The President of the United
States, Mr. George W. Bush...displays his racist thinking again this week by
reiterating that he is pursuing ‘regime change’ in Zimbabwe.... Mr. Bush is the biggest threat to world peace
and security today. Here is a man who,
after meeting his Vietnam in Iraq and Afghanistan, desperately tries to divert
attention from his disastrous foreign policy by demonizing countries like
Zimbabwe instead of cleaning up his mess in Baghdad and Kabul. The Texas cowboy must give us a
break.... Is it not ironic that while
Mr. Bush lies through his teeth about the human rights situation in Zimbabwe...he
is involved in dirty deals with countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and
Uzbekistan? Anyone who claims, as the U.
S. warmonger does, that these countries are better democracies than Zimbabwe is
either hopelessly ignorant of international affairs or up to political
mischief. Isolating and demonizing
Zimbabwe will not miraculously free Mr. Bush from the Iraqi quagmire. Clearly, he must find more pragmatic methods
of mobilizing support for his backfiring misadventure.... While we appreciate that Mr. Bush and his
so-called coalition of the willing are now regretting why they ever created the
costly Iraqi imbroglio, we know that the sooner these warmongers learn their
lesson in that country, the better for world peace and security.”
"A Bush-Fire In The Desert"
Nathaniel Manheru (a.k.a. Information Minister Jonathan Moyo)
penned the following in the government-controlled The Herald
(11/8): "George Bush is raving mad
and has begun setting a bonfire in the desert.
In his latest weekly monologue supposedly to Americans, he stressed
Islam and democracy were not mutually exclusive, menacingly adding that America
will work towards an outbreak of democracy in countries like Saudi Arabia and
Egypt.... Iran too, Bush added, had to
shape up or face an invasion, presumably a democratic one akin to that suffered
by Iraq. Clearly buffeted by repeated
blows, Bush’s anger is directionless, and seems now set to devour even his
closest allies in the Middle East."
Omissions In Bush's Speech"
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo international writer Joao Batista
Natali opined (11/7): "The tone
George W. Bush used yesterday to support democracy was constructive. Some of his statements could have been made
by leftist political scientists or liberal leaders with no affinity for the
current U.S. diplomatic view. But his
speech revealed some important omissions....
Bush cited Republican President Reagan as the herald of democratic
expansion worldwide.... He would have
been more accurate if he had mentioned the Democrat Jimmy Carter, who based his
foreign policy on civil liberties. It is
also curious that Bush did not refer to Russia, where civil liberties have been
seriously threatened by President Vladimir Putin's authoritarianism, and praised
Saudi Arabia for having promised to hold the first elections in its 71-year
history in 2005.... It would have been
unrealistic to expect that a president would not resort to double standards [in
his speech]. Some American interests
must be preserved. Failing to criticize
Pakistan--which possesses nuclear arms and is an authoritarian nation--means
pleasing an ally committed to the war against terrorism. Similarly, Bush made derogatory references to
Cuba and North Korea, which are communist dictatorships similar to China, a
nation that Bush has said is on the right course, since its market economy will
lead to the emergence of political democracy."