The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.


As Issandr indicated, Bush's inaugural speech covertly unleashed the "freedom" doctrine. For those of us studying and living in the Arab world this meant the GMEI. In what feels like the film Groundhog day, Bush 43 admin 2 is looking about reviving the Greater Middle East Initiative (whether they call it that or not) which horridly failed last year.

Today's Guardian had a superficial piece that touched on Bush's promises to expand freedom in the ME. The article was more useful in seeing what Americans think about this idea rather than the admin directly promising to pick up the pace in the region's "forced liberalization".

The most troubling part of the piece is that most Americans according to a Gallup poll don't think that the Admin can achieve its goal of spreading democracy in the Middle East. Complicating this analysis though is the bit where nearly two-thirds of Americans polled actually thought Bush's inaugural speech was good or excellent. Only 11-percent thought the speech was rubbish.

America is not special in this regard. People not thinking their government can deliever but still bestowing on it legitimacy exists everywhere (even surprisingly in the Arab world where many a book has been written about the lack of legitimacy these regimes' possess). The fact that most Americans approved of Bush's speech is more indicative of the millions of dollars thrown into the inaugural exhibition than human beings actually being aware of the consequences of continuing to let Bush think he has a mandate and "political captial". You may not be able to Shock and Awe Baghdad into political acquiescence but in democracies its easy.

This spectacle proves worth it though.....anytime you can get the people to realize that your goals are flawed but they still approve indicates that the US government can engage in time-wasting affairs such like the doomed GMEI, which can only promises failure. That is unless the real goal of the GMEI and its potential re-emphasis is more to do with keeping Arab governments in-line and on-board with American strategic interests.