Liberal as in Liberty and Freedom. Iranian as in Cyrus and Ferdowsi.
Fighting Terror and Promoting Democracy
the unsatisfactory situation of the press freedom in his native Morocco, Jamai Aboubakr, a contributer to Washington Post's PostGlobal
with the following remarks:
"[T]he Arab world has seen some profound hypocrisy. While advocating democracy in the region, the Bush administration was relying on human right abusers to aid it in the fight against terrorism. These human rights abusers, heads of state, high ranking security apparatus officials and the like were and are the ones who are the most opposed to the flourishing of a truly free and independent press. It is hence the duty of the western, and more particularly, the American civil society, press, Human right NGO's to expose this situation. It is the only way to help tilting the balance in favour of genuine democratic forces in our countries."
While I see the merit in "exposing [Western] hypocricies," I believe it is by no means "the only way" or even a sufficient way of tilting the balance in favour of democratic forces.
We should note that fighting Islamic-fundamentalist terrorism is itself an important step in promoting democracy in the Arab and middle-eastern countries. The terrorists, whether in power (as in Iran) or on the loose (as in, say, Saudi Arabia), are one of the most important roadblocks in the social fabric of our countries to democracy. So, as they lose their actual and supposed power, the chances of victory for democratic forces get better.
Admittedly, this is a delicate matter and Western and especially American policies have not been without serious mistakes. However, as a critical operation for the protection of ordinary people's lives and also in the global effort to promote democracy, some compromises and deals with less-than-prefect players are necessary. What must be added to such deals is transparency in their terms and the overarching principle of promoting democracy with which they must be in line.
The last point is very important and should not be taken just as a rhetorical add-on to political speeches. There must be concrete items of any such deal that implement this program. For instance, when signing a deal with, say, the authoritarian government of Pakistan whose cooperation has been vital in combating the Taliban and Islamic extremists, the West and especially the US must put in concrete demands for the protection of people's lives and freedoms, changes to school curricula in order to educate the population on the principles of freedom and democracy, reforming the courts and rolling back the inhumane practices of the Sharia law, etc.
Simply put, fighting terror does not only happen in the battlefields and skirmishes. More importantly, it happens in classrooms and courts and other parts and layers of the society. It is the resolved intention of a partnership of the democratic forces of our societies and the free world (their governments, civil society, etc.) to open up our societies and to create the necessary institutions of democracy that is the only way of tilting the balance in favour of both parties.