As out-going President Bush winds down his “farewell tour”, he continues to distort history in the hopes of re-engineering his legacy. The tour has been met disinterest, skepticism, and a pair of flying shoes. Mr. Bush has given himself credit for keeping the nation safe after 9/11. Was he not in charge on 9/11? He also claims that his economic policies have strengthened the nation’s economy. That is simply laughable! In a three part blog series, The George W. Bush Legacy – FUBAR, I detailed his failures and how I felt history will judge him. (Read parts: I, II, III ).
One of the outlandish assertions that Mr. Bush is making during his tour is that under his leadership, the Middle East is now a more democratic Middle East. Is it really? Let’s take a look:
The jury is still out. Nobody knows what will happen in Iraq once American forces withdraw from the country. The country is deeply divided and the government of Nuri al-Maliki’s Islamic Dawa Party may not have the popular support to stand up against Muqtada al-Sadr’s loyalists. The Sunni minority and the independence-minded Kurds will make matters worse. The recent arrests of key government officials, accused of reconstituting Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party, signals a move to consolidate power and could be the precursor to one party rule.
They’re baaaack! The Taliban has reconstituted itself to the point that American forces have been redeployed into the region. Political parties can come and go. Quasi-cultural religious movements, however twisted they may be tend to linger for a long time. The Taliban will remain a force in Afghanistan for years. The country remains fractured and Afghan President Hamid Karzai controls just a portion of the country. The alien concept of democracy in Afghanistan is remote at best.
Democratization in the Region:
Mr. Bush points out that the Middle East is now a beacon of democracy. Unfortunately, the truth tells a different story. Here are examples of Mr. Bush’s “beacons of democracy” and their respective democratically elected leaders:
Saudi Arabia remains a monarchy
King Abdullah bin Aziz of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Kuwait remains a monarchy
Emir Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah of Kuwait
The United Arab Emirates remain a monarchy
Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates
Qatar remains a monarchy
Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani of Qatar
Bahrain remains a monarchy
Sheik Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifah of the Kingdom of Bahrain
Oman remains a monarchy
Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said of the Sultanate of Oman
Jordan remains a monarchy
King Abdullah II of the Kingdom of Jordan
Syria remains a one party rule state
President Bashar al-Assad of he Syrian Arab Republic
Egypt remains a one party rule state
President Hosni Mubarak of the Arab Republic of Egypt
The only true democratically elected Arab government in the region can be found in Yemen. Yet the country is beset with a growing separatist movement threatening its young democracy. The Israeli occupied territory of Gaza did hold democratic elections in 2006. Once Hamas was declared the winner, the results were rejected by the US and now Gaza and the West Bank are governed by different Palestinian Authority factions. Lebanon remains a fractured democracy with confessional politics having paralyzed the country for decades.
In light of these facts, Mr. Bush’s assertion that the Middle East has become democratized during his time in office is nothing more than another one of his fantasies and another failed attempt to rewrite his own sad history.