The Majlis, a Doha, Qatar publication, aptly summed up the Obama administration’s disinterest in promoting democracy on April 13, 2010:
Obama has said almost nothing about human rights and democracy in Egypt; instead, his administration gave Hosni Mubarak new military hardware and a permanent trust fund. High-ranking White House officials blessed the transparently corrupt election in Sudan. They’ve been silent on autocracy and rule-of-law problems in the Gulf: When an Emirati court acquitted the well-connected Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al-Nayhan on torture charges, despite a videotape showing his involvement, the State Department couldn’t muster anything more than a tepid statement. Yemen, Libya, Jordan — nowhere is the Obama administration pushing for democratic reforms. Realism rules the day.
When the U.S. did use its leverage in the promotion of democracy, it garnered results. In 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice cancelled a trip to Cairo to protest the jailing of Egyptian opposition presidential candidate Ayman Nour. The Mubarak regime promptly released him. However, during the November 2010 sham parliamentary elections in Egypt, the best the Obama team could do was to declare their “disappointment in Egypt’s elections.”
Dictators in the oppressive lands of the Arab Middle East have no incentive to democratize — to do so would threaten their rule, power, and their dynastic succession. These arbitrary rulers of the Arab world reject peace and democracy, and they would rather use Israel as a convenient scapegoat to keep themselves in power, while keeping their people under emergency law and police states.
Democratic states tend to live in peace with one another because war and conflict are expensive and national resources are best used to improve the lives of their people. This is why the countries of Western Europe have lived in peace – particularly France and Germany, whose historic rivalry ended when Germany became a full fledged democracy after WWII.
The United States can and must be the catalyst for peace in the Middle East by promoting democracy in the region in a determined and sustained way. The U.S. must use its leverage to pressure the Arab governments and the Iranians to transform their countries into democracies. Freedom loving people the world over look to the U.S. with hope. If the U.S. abandons its moral compass, that hope for a safe, secure, democratic future will be lost.
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