U.S. SLOWS BID TO ADVANCE DEMOCRACY
(Extensions of Remarks - December 20, 2004)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E2206-E2207]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                  U.S. SLOWS BID TO ADVANCE DEMOCRACY

                                 ______
                                 

                           HON. BARNEY FRANK

                            of massachusetts

                    in the house of representatives

                       Monday, December 20, 2004

  Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker when we convened for the lame 
duck session several weeks ago, I shared with our colleagues a very 
insightful article from the Washington Post by Fred Hiatt pointing out 
the extreme gap that exists between the Bush Administration's claim 
that the advancement of democracy is a major goal of its foreign 
policy, and the almost complete absence of any real activity towards 
that goal in the execution of that foreign policy.
  The elevation of the promotion of democracy to central status in the 
Bush foreign policy--in contrast to a great extent to the President's 
scorn about nation-building when he ran for office in 2000--came partly 
because of the need to find some substitute justification for the war 
in Iraq, after weapons of mass destruction and the tie to the 9/11 
murders were both shown to be without factual basis. So, many of the 
neo-conservative supporters of the President--some of them actually 
believing it--argued that overthrowing Saddam Hussein was an essential 
step towards an administration policy towards implementing democracy in 
the Middle East.
  This has of course proven to have no more factual basis than the 
weapons of mass destruction or al-Qaida tie. As Joel Brinkley notes in 
a long article in the New York Times for Sunday, December 4, ``When 
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and other senior American officials 
arrive at a summit meeting in Morocco next week that is intended to 
promote democracy across the Arab world, they have no plans to 
introduce any political initiatives to encourage democratic change.'' 
(emphasis added)
  Contrary to those neo-conservatives who predicted that the overthrow 
of Saddam Hussein would begin an era in which America was hailed for 
its liberating role, and democracy would become almost infectious, as 
Mr. Brinkley notes, ``Since then . . . the popular view of the United 
States in the region has grown so dark, even hateful, that American 
officials are approaching the meeting with caution and with a package 
of financial and social initiatives that have only a scant relationship 
to the original goal of political change.''
  Mr. Speaker, as we begin a new term for President Bush, with Colin 
Powell no longer available to provide a facade of moderation, the 
harsher realities of the Bush foreign policy are becoming clearer. 
Among these are the President's lack of any real commitment to the 
promotion of democracy as an American foreign policy goal. Joel 
Brinkley's excellent analysis is further strong evidence of this and I 
ask, because of the importance of this subject to our national policy 
debates, that his very useful article be printed here.

                [From the New York Times, Dec. 4, 2004]

           U.S. Slows Bid To Advance Democracy in Arab World

                           (By Joel Brinkley)

       Washington, Dec. 4.--When Secretary of State Colin L. 
     Powell and other senior American officials arrive at a summit 
     meeting in Morocco next week that is intended to promote 
     democracy across the Arab world, they have no plans to 
     introduce any political initiatives to encourage democratic 
     change.
       President Bush started speaking in 2002 about the need to 
     bring democracy to the Arab nations. Since then, however, the 
     popular view of the United States in the region has grown so 
     dark, even hateful, that American officials are approaching 
     the meeting with caution and with a package of financial and 
     social initiatives that have only a scant relationship to the 
     original goal of political change.
       Administration officials and their allies defend the change 
     in strategy, saying the United States should no longer try to 
     take the lead.
       ``Others have gotten involved in the political side, and 
     that is a good thing,'' said Lorne W. Craner, who was 
     assistant secretary of state for democracy and human rights 
     until August and now is president of the International 
     Republican Institute, a government-financed organization 
     dedicated to advancing democracy worldwide. But 
     administration officials said some senior officials in the 
     State Department were frustrated by the unwillingness of 
     their colleagues to raise political initiatives at the 
     meeting.
       A senior administration official involved in Middle East 
     policy said that if the American program remained largely 
     centered on business and financial initiatives, ``that's not 
     good enough.'' The United States needs ``to hold people 
     accountable,'' he added.
       Another official working in the same area added that Arab 
     leaders were ``willing to take the aid, but they're not 
     willing to carry out the reform.''
       Mr. Powell, in a radio interview on Thursday, said he hoped 
     the summit meeting participants would ``come to an 
     understanding of the need for reform and modernization in the 
     broader Middle East and North Africa region.''
       When the State Department set up a news media briefing last 
     month on the Morocco meeting, it assigned Alan P. Larson, 
     undersecretary of state for economic, business and 
     agricultural affairs, to make the presentation. He said 
     the meeting was intended ``to create greater opportunities 
     for the next generation in the broader Middle East'' 
     through grants and aid to small businesses, networking 
     among regional financial institutions and exchanging 
     ``views about how to bring more capital in the region,'' 
     among other ideas. The United States is involved in most 
     of those efforts through its Middle East Partnership 
     Initiative.
       In an interview, Mr. Larson contended that these and other 
     financial proposals would contribute to democratic change, at 
     least indirectly.
       ``When you help small entrepreneurs, that creates a middle-
     class part of the social underpinning of a democracy,'' he 
     said. ``We see synergistic links between political and 
     economic initiatives.''
       He and other officials said more direct discussions of 
     political change would come from the Democratic Assistance 
     Dialogue, a new program administered by Italy, Turkey and 
     Yemen intended to foster discussion of political change. But 
     after an initial organizational meeting in Rome last month, 
     future meetings have not yet been scheduled, said Burak 
     Akcapar, counselor in the Turkish Embassy.
       The Middle East Partnership Initiative, which has received 
     $264 million from Congress since 1993, has a political 
     component. But a study by two scholars at the Brookings 
     Institution, published this week, found that it was 
     ``increasingly shifting its resources from democracy 
     promotion and engagement with local volunteer organizations, 
     to the far

[[Page E2207]]

     less provocative path of regime-led economic development.''
       That ``can have the effect of subsidizing an Arab 
     government's attempts to build a kinder, gentler autocracy,'' 
     it added.
       ``The whole thing rings hollow,'' said Steven A. Cook, a 
     fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan 
     research group based in New York. ``What is missing is not 
     technical and financial know-how, it is the political will to 
     reform,'' said Mr. Cook, whose field of study is political 
     change in the Arab world. ``I don't think these programs mesh 
     with the president's rhetoric.''
       At the briefing, Mr. Larson emphasized repeatedly that the 
     Morocco conference was not ``an effort to impose anything 
     from the outside as much as to facilitate efforts that 
     are already being undertaken in the region'' and ``share 
     experiences, share ideas'' among Arab foreign ministers.
       Robert Satloff, executive director of the Washington 
     Institute for Near East Policy, a public research 
     organization said, ``If only the Arab leaders are involved, 
     that will be a brief discussion.''
       Anger about a perceived bias toward Israel in Washington 
     and about the war in Iraq have made the United States quite 
     unpopular among many in the Arab world. Then, in February, 
     when an Arabic newspaper published a draft of a Bush 
     administration plan urging the world's wealthiest nations to 
     press for political change in the Middle East, several Arab 
     leaders erupted in anger. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, a 
     close ally of Washington, called the plan ``delusional.''
       The administration quickly abandoned the plan.
       The unspoken fact behind all of the discussions, said 
     Leslie Campbell, director of the Middle East Program at the 
     National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, a 
     government-financed group that promotes democracy worldwide, 
     ``is that we are trying to work with a bunch of people who 
     are going to be kicked out of office'' if democratic change 
     moves forward. For now, he added, ``it's easier to support 
     free-trade agreements than political change.''
       Now, not only do many Arab leaders oppose the plan for 
     broad democratic change, so do some opposition leaders.
       ``The Bush plan is opposed by the ruling elites who fear 
     losing their privileges and powers,'' wrote Amir Taheri, a 
     political commentator, in Gulf News, ``and by a variety of 
     oppositionists who use anti-Americanism as the key element of 
     their political message.''
       There is little question that Arab leaders prefer the new 
     approach. A senior Arab diplomat said in an interview that 
     when American officials spoke to his nation's prime minister 
     about political change recently, ``the prime minister told 
     them: `I have two trains--the political train and the 
     economic train. And the political train cannot run ahead of 
     the other.'
       ``So we started talking to them about economic 
     development,'' the diplomat said.
       A senior State Department official said discussions with 
     several Arab states brought similar results.
       In a speech to open a session of Parliament on Wednesday, 
     King Abdullah II of Jordan emphasized that his country must 
     continue ``reform, modernization and development,'' which 
     would enable ``the Jordanian individual to actively take part 
     in formulating the present and the future.'' He went on to 
     emphasize that change should be focused on fighting ``poverty 
     and unemployment.''
       Mr. Craner, the former State Department official, said: ``I 
     would watch for the prominence of political versus economic 
     and social reforms I discussed at the meeting. If it is 
     mostly economic and social, it is not a good sign.''
       The senior Arab diplomat offered a broader warning.
       ``Something must happen as a result of this meeting,'' he 
     said. ``If nothing happens, it will be very difficult to keep 
     this alive because there are lots of people who want to kill 
     it.''

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