Monday, November 21, 2005

Machetes and Middle East Democratic Reform

Shortly after the Iraq elections last January, a rapid series of "democratic" movements appeared to occur. After Hariri's assassination, Lebanon demanded that Syria withdraw its troops from the decades-long occupation and Egypt's Mubarak declared that his government would henceforth conduct free and open elections.

No one familiar with Mubarak's heavy handedness thought that this was likely, but various White House officials, including Bush, proclaimed that their "strategy" of democratizing the Middle East was now showing some dividends. Indeed, Bush supporters trumpeted the brilliance of Bush to all the nay-sayers; the democracy dominoes were all about to tumble and Egypt was just the first. Soon, the roiling cauldron of Middle East tension would be a calm and placid pond of freedom and self-determination.

I wonder if this is what they had in mind when Mubarak proclaimed his new found devotion to democratic rule:
Attackers wielding machetes, knives and axes created mayhem at scattered polling places around Egypt on Sunday, killing one man and wounding dozens of others. The violence was seen as a government effort to create chaos to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from making further gains in the second round of three-stage parliamentary elections.
It would seem that die-hard military dictators still have a hard time owning up to the will of the people. And, of course, the White House generally turns a blind eye to this sort of behaviour, especially when it is being exhibited by one of Bush's democracy dominoes.

But why should we have expected anything else? The White House and Congress have turned a near-blind and rheumy eye toward electoral abuse in this country. Indeed, the GOP majority and the White House directly benefitted from the now well-established election chicanery, why should we expect them care about the electoral mayhem in Egypt?


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