Democracy spreads… to Egypt now

Democracy spreads… to Egypt now

: Big news from Egypt: Hosni Mubarek is opening the first multicandidate (read: real) elections:

President Hosni Mubarak opened the door on Saturday to multi-candidate presidential polls in Egypt, a dramatic move welcomed by Washington and opposition groups as a step toward more open government.

Analysts described his televised announcement, heralding the first contested polls since the 1952 fall of the monarchy, as a response to both U.S. reform calls and an increasingly vocal domestic opposition, emboldened by Washington. Cairo is uneasy about U.S. campaigning for democratic change in the region….

State Department spokesman Steven Pike welcomed the development, which came a day after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice postponed a visit to Egypt.

Even Armando at Daily Kos graciously annoints this good news: “The Bush Administration will feel, and with some justification, a measure of satisfaction.” He continues to ask Eeyore cautious questions about how good the election will be. Of course, there is much work ahead. American officials are officially cautious, as well they should be. (UPDATE: Poliblogger adds more cautions.) Hell, the most likely opponent was jailed (more here). Egypt is hardly enlightened overnight. But the pressure of the people and what’s happening in the neighborhood and from America — witness Condi’s cancelled trip — is being felt. It’s a step.

Afghanistan.

Iraq.

Palestine.

Egypt.

Democracy is spreading. Democracy must spread.

: Haaretz, too, sees good news here:

Something “dangerous” is happening to public opinion in several Arab countries: It is beginning to chalk up more and more victories. Last week, the Lebanese public pushed Syria to announce its intention to withdraw from Lebanon. Last year, Saudi public opinion and American pressure generated a public discussion of human rights in the monarchy. And yesterday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak laid the foundation for Egypt’s democratic revolution, no less.

: LATER: I at first called Aramando’s questions Eeyore questions. That wasn’t fair and I quickly changed it (but left the evidence). Give Armando full credit for giving even this administration credit for having something to do with this. And, yes, there’s no reason to think that Mubarek is going to be holding election coffees. But it is good news.

: SUNDAY UPDATE: The punchline according to Global Octopus:

Of course, it has nothing to do with US policy. All the credit goes to Jacques Chirac and Kofi Annan.

  • stevek

    Color me skeptical. Democracy is a wretched idea that can bear deadly fruit – as Americans, we have tended to lose our freedoms in proportion to our infection with the notion. At least the “will” of the “people” in this country is muddled and confused by “education” and propaganda… this allows for a sort of no-man’s-land gridlock to overtake our government, in good times, frustrating the ambitions of “leaders”.
    We may well look back to the good old days in the Middle East.

  • Dan H

    Hey Jarvis, if you’re so gung ho about nation building, how come you’re not in Iraq riding around in one of those unarmored humvees waiting to hit the next IED?
    I guess it’s easier to be the blogosphere’s howdy-doody head for the msm that you revile yet you spend every waking hour trying to get into bed with them.
    You’re risking absolutely nothing and have just as much to offer. You’re like some sort of game show host. Betcha can’t wait until the Web becomes more like network tv, then you’ll be its tv guide.

  • Reid

    Oh, yeah, Dan, the old chickenhawk game. F*** off. Better a chickenhawk than a chicken.

  • http://www.glcq.com paul_lukasiak

    not to rain on your parade Jeff, but “democracy has been on the march” throughout the world for quite some time without the US killing tens of thousands of Muslims as an incentive.
    Indeed, until Bushco started its insane sabre-rattling, Iran itself was “democratizing”.
    If you want to give credit for the spread of democracy, give it where it is due—-to Jimmy Carter (who made human rights the centerpiece of his foreign policy) Ronald Reagan (who understood the political, if not the moral, value of emphasizing human rights) and Bill Clinton (who also did a great deal to encourage democracy overseas.)
    ….and as stevek has noted “democracy” in and of itself is no guarantee of anything. Indeed, the extreme hostility that Bushco has engendered toward the US throughout the world, but especially in the Mid-east, makes democratic “reforms” in that region more of a threat to the interests of the American people than an accomplishment of Bushco.

  • http://kadoom.blogspot.com/2005/02/president-mubarak-democrat.html Kadoom

    President Mubarak wants two things to happen:
    One, he wants to continue to receive the $2 billion plus from the US, and
    Two, he wants to prepare the way for his son to win the Presidency when he is ready.
    No more, no less. Those who believe that he is NOW opening up to democracy are allowing hope to triumph over reality. See link for a little more.

  • http://www.elflife.com/ carsonfire

    Wait, I’m confused! First stevek says this is bad because “Democracy is a wretched idea”, but then Kadoom says this is bad because Democracy isn’t really happening!
    Please make it a little more clear which end of this I’m supposed to be angry and cynical about.

  • Kat

    Yes, Paul, Clinton encouraged ‘democracy’ in Rwanda and aided the KLA, a drug-dealing organization with ties to Al Qaeda in bosnia.
    He allowed the Albanian muslims to burn all the Christian churches and kill and run the Christians out of the country. Killing tens of thousands of non- Muslims as an incentive seems just hunky dory. Kofi, Jimmy Carter and Bill and Co. don’t seem too concerned with the muslims’ genociding in Darfur, don’t you think? Never hear much, anyways.
    I’d rather spread democracy than islamism.

  • http://RuthCalvo Ruth

    Freedom of speech all over the world, that would be the ideal and the triumph of democracy, wouldn’t it?
    Of course, in Cambodia the legislature passed a law rescinding its allowing of remarks on the floor to be free. And Tom Rainsy had to flee the country. Cambodia still gets massive aid from the U.S.
    We are doing a great deal for democracy, but a spotlight on the problem areas would most likely improve the efforts we’re making.

  • Jeff

    I agree that allowing elections in Egypt is a step forward, and it’s a step for which the Bush administration can take credit.
    I’d feel a lot better Mubarek hadn’t arrested the only guy who has a decent shot at beating him a few weeks earlier.
    I have to say, even as a die-hard Bush hater, I was damned proud to see Condi Rice give Egypt the diplomatic finger by snubbing him for a visit after he pulled that stunt.