When Did Conservatives Stop Caring About Spreading Democracy?
The premise of invading Iraq and doing away with Saddam Hussein was to spread democracy. We went into Afghanistan for the same reason. So, why doesn’t this apply to Egypt? This is not to say we should overthrow or a regime or firmly take sides against President Mubarak, who has been an ally, but it is to say we can’t look at it in black-and-white terms. We can’t ignore the aspirations of the protesters while being aware that the net result of their actions can severely affect the Mideast powder keg. Thus, to dismiss the populist movement as former UN Ambassador John Bolton has done mitigates against what neo-cons, especially, have said they wanted when they’ve tried to install democracy at the point of a gun (h/t Think Progress).
Throughout his tenure as a high-level administration official, Bolton repeatedly insisted that one of his top priorities was helping spread freedom, respect for human rights, and democracy throughout he world. He was instrumental in the Bush administration’s refusal to join the U.N. Human Rights Council, supposedly out of his objection to the poor human rights records of several of the council’s members.
Yet during an interview with right-wing radio host Mark Levine [Friday], Bolton used his time on the show to attack and undermine the pro-democracy protest movement currently underway in Egypt. The former U.N. ambassador claimed that the “real alternative” to the Mubarak government is not “Jeffersonian democracy” but rather the opposition Muslim Brotherhood. After Levine postulated that “every Jihadi nutjob is probably pouring into Egypt right now,” Bolton followed up by saying this is the “big opportunity” for jihadists and mocked the calls of the international community to restore internet services, saying that the “Muslim Brotherhood knows how to use Twitter just like naive college students do.”
As Think Progress’s Zaid Jalini notes:
Lastly, and most importantly of all, as former CIA officer and chair of the Obama administration’s 2009 Afghanistan and Pakistan strategic policy review Bruce Reidel writes, “Egyptians will decide the outcome, not Washington. We should not try to pick Egyptians’ rulers. Every time we have done so, from Vietnam’s generals to Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, we have had buyer’s remorse …. [We] should not be afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood. Living with it won’t be easy but it should not be seen as inevitably our enemy. We need not demonize it nor endorse it. In any case, Egyptians now will decide their fate.” In other words, supporting democracy overseas does not mean supporting only leaders who we have no disagreements with.
If Bolton is siding with Mubarak against the legitimate aspirations of the Egyptian people — which include but are far from limited to nonviolent Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood — he should no longer pretend to be a friend of democracy (something he admitted in 2010 when he said that democracy is “not always the answer”).Click here for reuse options!
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