US policy and democracy


By Stephen Pollard
January 4, 2010
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There's a superb editorial in today's Washington Post, prompted by the pretty awful response by the US Ambassador to Egypt to a question put by students on the US position on democracy in Egypt:

In my time in Egypt, I have noticed that many Egyptians are very free to speak out. The press debates so many things.

As the Post comments:

The assembled students must have wondered if Ms. Scobey was talking
about some other country. Egypt is rated 143rd out of 175 countries for
press freedom by Reporters without Borders.
Independent journalists who dare to criticize President Hosni Mubarak
are routinely subjected to lawsuits by ruling party members that can
result in prison sentences.

It's worth reading the rest of the leader, for its ruminations on President Obama's repositioning of the centrality of democracy in its foreign policy:

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, the Bush administration correctly
judged that an absence of political freedom was contributing to the
growth of Islamic extremism, as was U.S. support for strongmen such as
Mr. Mubarak. For a time it pressed Arab governments for democratic
change, and it made some headway in Egypt before retreating in its
final years. The Obama administration, in contrast, appears to have put
democracy promotion in the region on a back burner. As Secretary of
State Hillary Rodham Clinton put it during a November press conference
in Cairo, the administration's "vision" focuses on "education, human
development, economic development and human rights." She didn't mention
"democracy."

 

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