Iran-Contra felon and neoconservative Elliott Abrams, formerly a deputy national security adviser to Bush II and now a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations makes the incredible claim in a WaPo editorial that because George Bush had the audacity to state that Arabs are capable of forming democracies (e.g.: “Are the peoples of the Middle East somehow beyond the reach of liberty? Are millions of men and women and children condemned by history or culture to live in despotism? Are they alone never to know freedom and never even to have a choice in the matter?”) the uprising in Egypt can some how be credited to George Bush’s “Freedom Agenda”!
One need only look to Palestine for evidence of the superficiality and hypocrisy of Bush’s Middle East democracy promotion: the Administration pushed for elections and when Hamas won decided to (along with Israel) help foment a civil war between Hamas and Fatah. And then there was Bush’s (like all American presidents) total unwillingness to force Israel to the negotiating table and bring an end to the decades-long US-financed occupation.
In Iraq, the years of bloodshed and the continuing political dysfunction aren’t bad examples either.
Abrams actually goes so far as to set up pushing for an end to the occupation as somehow antithetical to supporting democratization in the region:
“U.S. officials talked to Mubarak plenty in 2009 and 2010, and even talked to the far more repressive President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, but they talked about their goals for Israeli-Palestinian peace and ignored the police states outside the doors of those presidential palaces.”
Abrams’ defense of what is clearly a completely hollow “Freedom Agenda” goes like this:
“This spirit did not always animate U.S. diplomacy in the Bush administration; plenty of officials found it unrealistic and had to be prodded or overruled to follow the president’s lead. But the revolt in Tunisia, the gigantic wave of demonstrations in Egypt and the more recent marches in Yemen all make clear that Bush had it right - and that the Obama administration’s abandonment of this mind-set is nothing short of a tragedy.”
The totally misleading potshots abound and carry on into other parts of the world:
“The ‘reset’ sought with Russia has been with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, not the Russian people suffering his increasingly despotic and lawless rule.”
This from a president who said that he saw into Putin’s soul! I sincerely hope Abrams’ is underestimating Washington Post readers or we are in big trouble. There is a legitimate debate over how the US should engage bad regimes, but dressing Obama up as a cruel player of realpolitik next to an enlightened human rights-fueled universalist Bush is simply deceptive.
This is just an early chapter in what will be a long, long effort to rewrite the Bush Administration’s history on foreign policy, civil liberties and economics—you name it. The failure of Obama and the now squandered Democratic congressional majority to investigate Bush’s crimes opens the door to this only-just-beginning cynical affront to the facts of history.