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Selling Democracy – De Lux Model with Double-Standards Built In

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Furthermore, civil society institutions in conflict affected countries, such as Iraq, come under constant violent attack; the same applies to the situation in Palestine – whether due to the occupation or in-fighting between its two political parties.” 

The US position on promoting democracy while turning a blind eye to blatant and widespread human rights abuses in the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere has made America vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy and has doubtless contributed to the precipitous fall in the world’s respect for the US.  

Many foreign policy experts suggest that America needs a more targeted approach to defeating known terrorists. And more effective use of “soft power” to counter the jihadist narrative with a more appealing story, and a series of high priority initiatives to discourage further radicalization among people who feel marginalized and disempowered but have not yet joined the ranks of “the bad guys.” 

This is not just an American problem. Millions of people from the Middle East and North Africa have now migrated to Europe. And, so far, few European countries have shown either the skills or the political will to develop policies to create a more welcoming environment for these “not like us” newcomers.  

But it is a very special problem for the United States – the country the whole world once looked to as an exemplar of respect for civil liberties, human rights and the rule of law.  

It is doubtful that America’s position in the world is likely to be restored by being found in bed with Hosni Mubarak or King Abdullah. 

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Also doubtful is that President Bush, in the waning months of his administration, is going to do anything except “stay the course.”

Changing course will be a job for our next president. Lamentably, none of the contenders for that office are discussing this issue.  

But we need to encourage them to do so.                                              

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William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)

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