The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Garton Ash on Egypt

Timothy Garton Ash has an op-ed on Egypt in which he contrasts EU and US policies for democracy promotion. I think the difference between the two is while the US has a democracy promotion policy that systematically loses out to its imperial policy and domestic interests (big oil, Israel, etc.), the EU is even more morally bankrupt in that it does not have a democracy promotion policy at all. In fact, it barely has the guts to have any kind of foreign and security policy at all. The history of EU policy (not individual states) towards the Middle East in the past 15 years is the history of a failure, the failure of the Barcelona Process. It's risible, really. But I don't care much about democracy promotion as a concept, frankly (recent years have left a bad taste in my mouth), and think that European states' policy towards the Middle East essentially take place in a transatlantic context, not in terms of direct bilateral relations between European and Arab states.

There is a part of the article I want to quote:

You cannot pass many hours here without encountering the unshakable conspiratorial conviction that the west is to blame for everything that is wrong in the Middle East (starting with Israel). The truth is that Usama's future, and that of the more than 400 million mainly young Arabs who are likely to be around in 20 years' time, is 80% up to the governments and people here and only 20% up to all the powers outside.
While I certainly agree that Arab countries have to do get their act together by themselves, it's profoundly hypocritical to dismiss the regional and global environment when talking about a region that is the core of the oil-based modern global economy. Furthermore, what Garton Ash forgets is that the independent policies of strong and representative Arab states may not be at all to his or Western governments' lacking. But then again organic intellectuals like Garton Ash will be at hand to criticize them when they are too strong rather than too weak.