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February 06, 2005

Democracy in Jordan

Abu Aardvark wishes that the U.S. were a little more serious about democracy in the Middle East. He (she? it?) quotes Matthew Yglesias:

Matt Yglesias for TAP Online: Naturally enough, Jordanians are less than thrilled by this situation, so now and again they venture into the town square to complain. And then they get arrested. The government of the United States, newly recommitted to freedom, had nothing whatsoever to say about this until an intrepid White House reporter asked the president about it on January 26. Bush punted, pleading ignorance of the facts and noting that 'His Majesty is making progress' toward democracy. In fact, His Majesty is doing no such thing. Recent years have seen cosmetic proposals put forward while, in practice, Jordan moves backward -- gerrymandering an unrepresentative but compliant parliament; cracking down on the press, professional associations, and other civil-society groups; restricting public assembly; and relying on ad hoc decrees promulgated while the parliament is out of session. There's no indication that Bush decided to familiarize himself with the facts of the case -- or even with the general political situation in Jordan -- as neither he nor any of his subordinates has mentioned it since. Nor has he been asked about it again.

And then Abu Aardvark says:

Needless to say, I agree. It helps to keep pointing it out, if only in the vain hope that pointing out inconsistencies with highly publicized rhetoric might force Bush to live up to the rhetoric, as (I think it was praktike) argued the other day.

I wonder if the democracy-promotion efforts of the U.S. government ought to be split off from the realist-dominated government entirely. Set up--with an extremely healthy funding base, and lots of independence from the realists in the U.S. and other governments--a Democratic International to train, support, lobby, and propagandize for democracy worldwide.

As far as democracy is concerned, the peoples of the world have nothing to lose but their chains. And we have a world to win.

Posted by DeLong at February 6, 2005 03:23 PM