Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Billmon reviews Bush's speech
I think I like his review better than mine. An excerpt from his:

But the really amusing thing was what happened when Shrub finally got around to talking about the Middle East. Suddenly, we discovered that all those regimes we thought were corrupt feudal autocracies are actually vibrant democracies, or at least well on their way towards becoming ones:

Governments across the Middle East and North Africa are beginning to see the need for change. Morocco has a diverse new parliament; King Mohammed has urged it to extend the rights to women...
In Bahrain last year, citizens elected their own parliament for the first time in nearly three decades. Oman has extended the vote to all adult citizens; Qatar has a new constitution; Yemen has a multiparty political system; Kuwait has a directly elected national assembly; and Jordan held historic elections this summer.

Even the House of Saud -- that bizarre product of Wahhabi absolutism, mind-boggling corruption and Scotch whiskey -- is finally coming around, according to Shrub:

The Saudi government is taking first steps toward reform, including a plan for gradual introduction of elections. By giving the Saudi people a greater role in their own society, the Saudi government can demonstrate true leadership in the region.
And so, deux ex machina, the Arab world's democracy deficit has been corrected-- at least in those countries that fall within the U.S. orbit. We don't need to push the Saudis to reform, because they're already reforming! Oman may be an absolute monarchy in which all power rests with an aging, illiterate tribal sheikh, but hey, at least everybody has the theoretical right to vote!

The point of Shrub's "revolution" seems to be this: Get yourself a token parliament, hold a few rigged elections, make a few noises about rights for women, and you, too, can be in good graces with Uncle Sam and Big Oil. Playing host to a few American military bases doesn't hurt, either.

But of course, there are still a few hold outs amid this rising tide of U.S. approved democracy:

The regime in Teheran must heed the democratic demands of the Iranian people, or lose its last claim to legitimacy.
Even for Shrub, this is hutzpah. For all its obvious flaws, Iran is a hell of a lot more democratic than any of the feudal oil kingdoms Bush cited in his speech. It has a real parliament, with substantive budgetary and oversight powers, holds real elections, and has a president who can stake a stronger claim to a popular mandate than having the votes of five Supreme Court justices.