THE PRESIDENT made a plea for democratic reforms in the Middle East the cornerstone of a speech dealing with democratic values across the globe.
And he acknowledged shortcomings in past policy, saying the United States and other nations shared blame for the lack of democratic freedoms in the Middle East.
“Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe, because in the long run stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty,” Bush said Thursday.
The president spoke to the National Endowment for Democracy, a group that champions democratic gains around the world, on the same day that he was signing an $87.5 billion package approved by Congress for military and reconstruction operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
U.S. war in those two Islamic countries, notably to oust Saddam Hussein in Iraq, have served to seriously damage America’s reputation across the Arab world. And what’s seen as Washington’s bias toward Israel in the conflict with the Palestinians has undermined its credibility in the Middle East.
Consequently words of praise were unexpected. “It is an historical speech, and I agree with what the president had to say, and this is the first time,” said Hafez Abu Se’da, head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.
“It is a new vision from the United States now because they focus on democracy. For a long time, they focused on economy and commercial interests. It is historical because the United States is talking about democracy and the interest of the people in these countries.”
The human rights advocate also praised what Bush had to say about democracy’s being compatible with Islam and Arab culture.
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A very interesting article...