Thursday, March 30, 2006

It could be worse.

That's about the strongest endorsement anybody could give the Bush foreign policy at this point.

While slow-motion ethnic cleansing continues in Iraq, outright civil war has yet to break out - instead, we have more of an Argintinian style "Dirty War" scenario going on. For the last month, American soldiers have been dying at the relatively modest pace of one per day. And journalist Jill Caroll and the three non-American members of the kidnapped Christian Peacemaker Team have been released (the American was killed). So all of these teams could be worse.

But the Administration's effort to spread democracy throughout the middle east are little short of disaster. The neocons seemed to think that establishing elections will inevitably lead to pluralism and freedom, which is proving terrible naive.

1. Our elected warlords in Afghanistan threatened to put a man to death for converting to Christianity, under pressure they decided he must be mentally ill and thus unfit for trial, and allowed him to flee the country, so I guess we dodged yet another bullet. Freedom is on the March!

2. Iraq still has no government three months after the December parlaimentary elections. Since there was no elected majority, it will be necessary to form a coalition in order to name a President and Prime Minister. This is proving to be nearly impossible, as the Shiites refuse to share power, especially with Baathist and insurgents, believing it's their turn to rule, while the Sunnis accuse them of setting up death squads. The whole country seems to have no concept of compromise and minority rights, the fun stuff we in the West used to call "pluralism." Speaking of which:

3. Palestine. Fatah has no interest in forming a coalition with HAMAS, believing the new government will fail and hoping the disaster propels them back into power. The fundies were only elected to root out deep-seated corruption, but don't seem to have the ability to moderate their platform even when it's clearly at odds with voters - the few towns who elected them in the last round of local elections actually voted them out this time, over their strict Islamic laws leading to the cancellation of a popular music festival. Young Palestinians, in my admittedly very limited experience, being more interested in punk rock and dope than in fundamentalism - and thus still more likely to develop a live and let live free society than Afghanistan.

I'm not without hope, but I think putting elections before human rights and development has been a classic blunder so far.
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