Freedom Fry

Look at that freedom fry! A collection of political hotlinks and original articles.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

The Great Emancipator

9:54 AM

I'll freely admit that I have taken a fair amount of pleasure in the recent events unfolding in the Middle East. The Lebanese defiance of the Syrian influence in their internal affairs, the announcement by Mubarak (though vague) that he will allow democratic elections in Egypt, and the unified response that the world has had on Syria's continued violation of UN rules by maintaining troop presence in Lebanon.

Having said that however, I think this article in Slate is frosted with an extra dollop of naivete when its author declares that perhaps Bush was right about "Freedom's March."

Call me a hair-splitting contrarian, but I'd call this more of a shuffle than a march. And even if it were a march, I'm not sure this is what Bush was talking about. First of all, freedom is not needed in the Middle East alone. The peoples of Burma (Myanmar), Zimbabwe, the Sudan, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia are equally entitled to democracy and all of its legislative and social support mechanisms.

Second of all, if we focus only on Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt, we can make the case that democracy and freedom are, indeed growing, but I'm not sure Bush had anything to do with this. Sure, his State Department has been smart enough to capitalize on the Lebanese dissent, but they had little to do with the events leading to the peaceful protests. In Egypt, all bets are off until the substance of Mubarak's claims are presented in the light of day. And lastly, in Israel, the death of Arafat had a lot to do with the new peace there. In short, this desperate desire to believe that Bush's inaugaration speech is coming to fruition is a little premature. Freedom isn't even close to crystallizing in any of these places and I doubt any of the oppressed people in the world have Bush in mind as they struggle.

Finally, I have to ask, what exactly is the "freedom" that Bush and Co. are talking about? Is it the freedom to choose any government you want, even if it is the Hezbollah (as the Slate article mentions), or a pro-Iranian coalition led by a trained Shi'ite theologian? Not all situations are cast from the same mold as the Middle East either. In Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe the role of the oppressor and oppressed is not easily defined and each side can claim they need freedom from the other. Perhaps the freedom Bush speaks of is the kind prevalent in Pakistan where the general of an army installed himself as the President. Is this the sort of freedom we can expect to march (note the militant tone of Bush's freedom concept) around the world? Funny, but the President and his policy makers seem to be concerned only with certain "pretty" freedom movements without giving a toot about others. Apparently freedom for our ally Pakistan can wait as more women are gang raped in order to restore "honor" and their assailants are acquitted (you can read about that


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