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Friday, May 07, 2004

Juan Cole Tells It Like It Is
Excerpts from his post today:
The Bush administration keeps talking about bringing democracy to the Middle East, but a key element in democracy is always the accountability of public officials to the public. That is why we have elections, that is why we have a division of powers, that is why Congress can impeach the executive and the Supreme Court could order Nixon to hand over his tape recordings. When high officials commit improprieties, they must resign. When they run a loose ship and it founders on the shoals of scandal, they must resign. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz must resign. It is the only way the United States can recover even a shred of credibility in the wider world, at a time when this country desperately needs the esteem and the cooperation of allies and friends.
When no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, no Bush administration official was asked to resign. The main purveyor of false intelligence on Iraqi WMD was Vice President Dick Cheney. He has not been asked to step down, even though he was largely responsible for taking the country to war based on a falsehood. Scooter Libby, David Wurmser and John Hannah were up to their necks in hyping bad intelligence on Iraqi WMD. None of them was asked to step down. They were supplied the bad intelligence by Undersecretary of Defense for Planning Douglas Feith and his rogue Office of Special Plans. No one associated with this scam has been asked to resign.
Democracy is about more than elections. Most Middle Eastern countries already have elections. Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, all of them hold regular elections. They have parliaments, parties, campaigns. Two things make them nevertheless not democracies. The first is that their presidents manipulate the elections so that there is never any doubt that they will win the election and that their party will dominate parliament (even if space is made for minority parties to win a few seats). Second, their regimes have no accountability to the public. No one in Hosni Mubarak's government has ever had to resign because he performed his duties poorly. He might have to resign because he fell out with the president. But if he is buddy buddy with the head of state, then he can do no wrong.

You really wonder whether the Bush plan to Americanize the Middle East isn't being turned on its head. We now have an unaccountable government not elected in accordance with the will of the majority of Americans, which victimizes critics like Joe Wilson and engages in torture. Bush and Co. are emulating the worst aspects of the military governments of Egypt and Yemen. They have no credibility to push the latter toward democracy.

Read the whole post!

BTW, Juan Cole will apparently be on Wolf Blitzer's show on CNN today between 5 and 6 PM.