MONSTER POLICY How Bad Things Happen When Principles Become Secondary to Politics The Bush foreign policy is built upon seeming peaceful ideas that seem to end up at war. Freedom seen as a gift of the Almighty to be spread by a boy has given us the interminable hell of Iraq. The heaven of full human rights for women applies for women in Afghanistan, but women wait in burgas in the purgatory of Saudi Arabia. We have set loose a Frankenstein monster of policy in the Middle East with little, well thought out consideration of the effect for the people of some far off village. Seemingly safe in the castle, we have allowed the mad scientist there to piece together pieces of policy good alone but monstrous together. The villagers are not fooled. The monster of policy sewn together has taken many forms. You see it in differing applications of human rights for women in different countries. You see the monster of policy run wild when other Middle Eastern countries note that nothing we say applies to Saudi Arabia.
Saudi is the helpful assistant, the Igor in our monstrous policy laboratory. Saudi is home to the shadow that hangs over the Middle East, the cloud that brings the coming storm: the intolerant Islamic sect of Wahabism. Condoleezza Rice would be the bride of our frankensteinish monstrous policy. The bride of the monster says one thing to the villagers, another to our chief “ally” in the Middle East. (In the rush to attack Iraq, some stilL fail to notice sixteen of he nineteen hijackers were Saudi, not Iraqi.)
The countries of the Middle East have noticed the different, disparate pieces of our human rights policies, which is one reason peace is still a dream and we will continue to see nightmare unrest. Rice was on the road in late June 2005 Her trip to the Middle East stopped in at Jerusalem, in Egypt and in Saudi. Some call her a herald of American hypocrisy.
Her admission that there were “boundaries” to the US drive for democratic reform in the region — notably in Saudi Arabia, where she declined to take up the cause of women, who are barred from driving cars — spurred accusations of American hypocrisy.
Critics claimed it also reduced the effect of a hard- hitting speech in Cairo, where Rice urged Middle Eastern rulers to “abandon the excuses” they had advanced for avoiding the “hard work” of democracy.
She warned the leaders of Egypt and Saudi Arabia — both American allies — that Washington was no longer ready to “pursue stability at the expense of democracy”, as it had done for the past 60 years.
But chatting to reporters as she flew from Riyadh to Brussels, Rice was asked why she had “very pointedly” declined to take a public position on the issue of Saudi women.
“It’s just a line I’ve not wanted to cross,” she replied. “The United States has to recognise that even after democratic processes have taken place, places are not going to look like the United States . . . I think it’s important that we do have some boundaries about what we’re trying to achieve.” [SUNDAY LONDON TIMES ONLINE]
The Heretik occasionally wonders why policy makers don’t think people will remember what they say from one day to the next. Here's what Condoleezza Rice had to say in Egypt.
There are those who say that democracy is for men alone. In fact, the opposite is true: Half a democracy is not a democracy. As one Muslim woman leader has said, "Society is like a bird. It has two wings. And a bird cannot fly if one wing is broken." Across the Middle East, women are inspiring us all.
In Kuwait, women protested to win their right to vote, carrying signs that declared: "Women are Kuwaitis, too." Last month, Kuwait’s legislature voiced its agreement. In Saudi Arabia, the promise of dignity is awakening in some young women. During the recent municipal elections, I saw the image of a father who went to vote with his daughter.
Rather than cast his vote himself, he gave the ballot to his daughter, and she placed it in the ballot box. This small act of hope reveals one man’s dream for his daughter. And he is not alone. [US STATE DEPARTMENT]
We Americans live in a strange world where our foreign policy lies in pieces. Our president can chide his friend Vladimir on human rights and democracy in Russia, but Saudi Arabia continues to get a pass. The monster of our policy stomps across the Middle East. The villagers there know who holds ultimate responsibility for what harm the monster wreaks. We should not be surprised when villagers come asking questions at the castle door.