Friday, December 2, 2011

The Middle East Policy Twilight Zone: Four Examples

You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead — your next stop, the Twilight Zone—Rod Serling

By Barry Rubin

Ah, the gap between Middle East reality and official U.S. government-approved reality. Here are four examples:

--“Here is the next challenge for the citizen movements that are advancing from Tunisia to Syria — and eventually, surely, to repressive non-Arab states such as Iran and China. Once they have toppled the secret police, the revolutionaries need to draft constitutions affirming the rights of the individual.” --David Ignatius, Washington Post

Yes, on the way to the Middle East utopia do stop off and adopt a Bill of Rights. It made such a nice adornment to the Soviet Constitution. Who says the secret police have been toppled? Any really democratic state will need them to deal with Salafist terrorists, while the Islamist-ruled regimes to come will need them to suppress democrats, secularists, Christians, feminists, and those who will be called Zionist and imperialist agents.

How much faith these people have in elections! One balloting won by anti-democratic forces and you’re home free.

--“There are many ways the Arab Awakening might veer off track, and religion-inspired constriction of freedom is one. But so far in Egypt, the greatest threat to democracy has come from the military rulers. In any true Arab democracy, Islamist parties will win a lot of votes. As long as they are willing to play by the rules, those parties should not be treated as a specter to be feared.” --Editorial, Washington Post

Here’s an interesting question. Other than the arrest of some bloggers and moderates who have been accused of criticizing the army and also the army’s terrible behavior toward the Christian demonstration at Maspero in which about 30 were killed, where’s this big threat to democracy from the military?

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