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Posts Tagged ‘condi’

Sharansky hopeful about Egypt

Posted by Richard on February 5, 2011

The Wall Street Journal's David Feith interviewed Natan Sharansky about recent events in Egypt and other Arab dictatorships, and found him neither as surprised nor as pessimistic as most of the so-called experts:

"The reason people are going to the streets and making revolution is their desire not to live in a fear society," Mr. Sharansky says. In his taxonomy, the world is divided between "fear societies" and "free societies," with the difference between them determinable by what he calls a "town square test": Are the people in a given society free to stand in their town square and express their opinions without fear of arrest or physical harm? The answer in Tunisia and Egypt, of course, has long been "no"—as it was in the Soviet bloc countries that faced popular revolutions in 1989.

This idea is the animating feature of a worldview that bucks much conventional wisdom. Uprisings like Tunisia's and Egypt's, he says, make "specialists—Sovietologists, Arabists—say 'Who could have thought only two weeks ago that this will happen?'" But "look at what Middle Eastern democratic dissidents were saying for all these years about the weakness of these regimes from the inside," and you won't be surprised when they topple, he says.

Sharansky doesn't buy the idea that propping up tyrants like Mubarak is the only way to prevent Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood from taking over. He argues that the longer Mubark remains in power, the more the Brotherhood becomes the only strong, well-organized opposition poised to take over. Better that the dictator should go now, with the streets largely filled with people yearning for freedom and democracy, not radical Islamists.

Sharansky wants the US to adopt a policy of "linkage," as it did with the Soviet Union in 1974:

If he were a U.S. senator, Mr. Sharansky says, he would immediately introduce a law to continue support to Egypt on condition that "20% of all this money goes to strengthening and developing democratic institutions. And the money cannot be controlled by the Egyptian government." Ideally his measure would kick in as soon as possible, so that it can affect the incentives of any Egyptian transitional government established to rule until September, when a presidential election is scheduled.

Sharansky thinks President Obama's response on Egypt is improving daily and is certainly much better than his response to the 2009 Iranian revolution: 

… By his reckoning, the Obama administration's position during the recent Iranian protests was "maybe one of the biggest betrayals of people's freedom in modern history. . . . At the moment when millions were deciding whether to go to the barricades, the leader of the free world said 'For us, the most important thing is engagement with the regime, so we don't want a change of regime.' Compared to this, there is very big progress [today]."

Inconsistency is par for the course in this field. "From time to time," Mr. Sharansky says of the George W. Bush administration, "America was giving lectures about democracy." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a strong address in Cairo in 2005. And in 2002, by threatening to withhold $130 million in aid to Egypt, the administration successfully pressured Mr. Mubarak to release the sociologist and democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim from prison. In their final years, however, administration officials reverted to bureaucratic form and relaxed their pressure drastically.

Condoleezza RiceEarlier this week, I recalled Condi's marvelous 2005 speech in Cairo and some of Bush's finest moments speaking about "the transformational power of liberty." But by 2006, with things going badly in Iraq and his popularity tanking, Bush pretty much gave up on the one thing he got right

President Obama relaxed it even further, Mr. Sharansky notes, inserting only vague language about democracy into his June 2009 address in Cairo. "There was no mention at all that at that  moment democratic dissidents were imprisoned, that Mubarak had put in prison the leading [opposition] candidate in the past election," Ayman Nour.

Much needs to change in Egypt, Sharansky concedes, before it can become a free society, but he believes those changes can and must begin now: 

Even if the U.S. embraces linkage, Egypt's September election could be quite problematic. "Only when the basic institutions that protect a free society are firmly in place—such as a free press, the rule of law, independent courts, political parties—can free elections be held," Mr. Sharansky wrote in "The Case for Democracy." In Egypt, those "free, developed institutions," he tells me, "will not be developed by September."

What can develop over the next eight months, Mr. Sharansky says, is a U.S. policy making clear that "whoever is elected cannot continue to survive—he cannot continue to rely on the assistance of the free world in defense, economics, anything—if democratic reforms are not continued and if democratic institutions are not built." After several years of such democracy-building, he says, when dissidents like Mr. Ibrahim enjoy the ability to build institutions like trade unions and women's organizations, "then in a few years you'll have a different country, and you can have really free elections."

Read the whole thing. Then let your congresscritters know that you support Sharansky's proposal for aid linkage. 

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Condi for Veep?

Posted by Richard on March 28, 2008

The possibility of a McCain-Rice ticket came up in the comments to this post a couple of weeks ago. I noted, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, that "'McCain-Rice 2008' fits nicely on bumper stickers." Now, according to Ron Kessler, anonymous Republican sources are claiming she's quietly let it be known she might accept if asked:

One source told Newsmax that she expressed interest in the possibility when Rudy Giuliani was running for president. Another source said she has more recently let her interest be known discreetly within top Republican circles, presumably including John McCain's camp.

Fueling speculation that she would consider being on the ticket, Rice appeared for the first time this week at the so-called Wednesday meeting run by Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. Rice spoke for 20 minutes at the off-the-record meeting of conservative leaders, then took questions for 20 minutes.

Presidential candidates, White House aides, Cabinet officers, and members of Congress routinely speak to the group, but the talks generally are far shorter. In her talk, Rice stuck to foreign policy. When asked about her future, she said she plans to teach at Stanford, where she was once provost, and she plans to write a book.

Asked for comment, an aide to Rice said it was "not true" that she has expressed interest in a run and pointed to what she said at the Wednesday meeting about intending to return to Stanford.

Of course, almost no one ever admits to wanting the VP slot. It seems to be standard procedure for those interested to deny wanting the job, while leaving the door open.

"She would be a good vice presidential candidate because she would be a good president," Norquist commented to Newsmax.

While conservatives generally like the idea of her running on a ticket with McCain, their only concern is her stand on abortion. In a 2005 interview with The Washington Times, Rice described herself as "mildly pro-choice" and a libertarian on the abortion issue.

That and her strong support for gun rights, rooted in a compelling childhood memory, are two reasons I've always liked Condi and used to hope she'd run for president. I've cooled on her lately because of some truly stupid statements and actions regarding Israel and the so-called "peace process," but I suppose she's just carrying out the orders of yet another American president who wants to "solve" the "Palestinian problem." 

I really don't like McCain (although my concerns regarding domestic and economic issues are assuaged somewhat by the fact that his chief economic adviser is Phil Gramm). But adding Rice to the ticket certainly would make it more appealing to me — and I suspect a lot of people would feel that way.

And don't forget that McCain is already 72. If he's elected, he'll be 77 at the end of the first term. Condi is a youthful 54. Is it too soon to register, or even  

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Free Alaa!

Posted by Richard on June 13, 2006

Not all the world’s human rights activists are exclusively focused on whether the United States and Israel are being too harsh on Islamofascists dedicated to exterminating Jews, killing Americans, treating women as cattle, and subjugating the entire globe.

Occasionally, some of them have time to notice that there are still plenty of places where people get locked up indefinitely for, say, taking part in a peaceful demonstration. Or blogging. Places like Egypt.

Apparently, the authorities in Egypt weren’t paying attention when Condi spoke in Cairo just about a year ago, and told her hosts:

Now, here in Cairo, President Mubarak’s decision to amend the country’s constitution and hold multiparty elections is encouraging. President Mubarak has unlocked the door for change. Now, the Egyptian Government must put its faith in its own people. We are all concerned for the future of Egypt’s reforms when peaceful supporters of democracy — men and women — are not free from violence. The day must come when the rule of law replaces emergency decrees — and when the independent judiciary replaces arbitrary justice.

The Egyptian Government must fulfill the promise it has made to its people — and to the entire world — by giving its citizens the freedom to choose. Egypt’s elections, including the Parliamentary elections, must meet objective standards that define every free election.

Opposition groups must be free to assemble, and to participate, and to speak to the media. Voting should occur without violence or intimidation. And international election monitors and observers must have unrestricted access to do their jobs.

Take action to demand that the Egyptian government release peaceful demonstrators from prison and meet the minimum standards for a civilized nation outlined by Secretary of State Rice.

Then visit the Free Alaa! blog, which a bunch of us are linking to with the word Egypt. The idea is that, hopefully, it will soon rank highly in Google searches for Egypt.

It’s called Googlebombing. Mark Draughn at Windypundit explained it. And demonstrated how to participate in the fun:

Please join in if you are so inclined. It only takes one link from a page to help a lot.


Of course, if you want to make more than one link, that’s okay too.

Egypt Egypt Egypt.

In fact, go wild.

Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt EgyptEgypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt EgyptEgypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt Egypt.

So there.

Thanks, Mark! I think that makes the concept pretty clear. 🙂

And thanks to Mustapha at Beirut Spring for designing some nice banners.

Free Alaa!

UPDATE: Alaa was freed on June 22nd! If you helped, pat yourself on the back! 

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Condi in Cairo

Posted by Richard on June 24, 2005

Belatedly, I went to the Secretary of State’s site and read the speech Condi Rice delivered at American University in Cairo on Mon., June 20. Wow. It’s a powerful and moving speech, an important speech, and I encourage everyone to read the whole thing. It’s five pages if you print it, which you should do — not only is it easier to read that way, but you can pass it on to others.

But, what the heck, I’ll provide some big chunks of it here. As you read the words, think about what it must have been like to hear it delivered — the electricity and drama of hearing a black American woman address these words to a (predominantly male) audience of Egyptian Arab Muslims. A few years ago, it would have been inconceivable that any American would address an audience in that part of the world with such words. It’s still astonishing and remarkable.

Note: I’m quoting a lot of text. In the interest of readability, I’m dropping the convention of italicizing block quotes (I’ve been thinking of dropping it anyway; if you have thoughts pro or con, let me know).

Rice started by saying as explicitly as I’ve seen it said that American foreign policy throughout the Cold War, post-colonial period was wrong, and that this administration has broken with that shameful past and embraced a principled, idealistic foreign policy as being both more moral and more practical than the cynical "pragmatism" of the past:

In this time of great decision, I have come to Cairo not to talk about the past, but to look to the future — to a future that Egyptians can lead and can define. Ladies and Gentlemen: In our world today, a growing number of men and women are securing their liberty. And as these people gain the power to choose, they are creating democratic governments in order to protect their natural rights.

We should all look to a future when every government respects the will of its citizens — because the ideal of democracy is universal. For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East — and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.

As President Bush said in his Second Inaugural Address: "America will not impose our style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, to attain their own freedom, and to make their own way."

We know these advances will not come easily, or all at once. We know that different societies will find forms of democracy that work for them. When we talk about democracy, though, we are referring to governments that protect certain basic rights for all their citizens — among these, the right to speak freely. The right to associate. The right to worship as you wish. The freedom to educate your children — boys and girls. And freedom from the midnight knock of the secret police.

Securing these rights is the hope of every citizen, and the duty of every government. In my own country, the progress of democracy has been long and difficult. And given our history, the United States has no cause for false pride and we have every reason for humility.

After all, America was founded by individuals who knew that all human beings — and the governments they create — are inherently imperfect. And the United States was born half free and half slave. And it was only in my lifetime that my government guaranteed the right to vote for all of its people.

Nevertheless, the principles enshrined in our Constitution enable citizens of conviction to move America closer every day to the ideal of democracy. Here in the Middle East, that same long hopeful process of democratic change is now beginning to unfold. Millions of people are demanding freedom for themselves and democracy for their countries.

She then stepped through a travelogue of the Middle East, providing examples — Jordan, Iraq, the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and ending with Egypt. Some of her descriptions were very positive — justified, IMHO, regarding the Iraqis and Lebanese; overly generous toward Jordan and the Palestinians. But regarding the others, including Egypt, she pulled few punches:

… The case of Syria is especially serious, because as its neighbors embrace democracy and political reform, Syria continues to harbor or directly support groups committed to violence — in Lebanon, and in Israel, and Iraq, and in the Palestinian territories. It is time for Syria to make a strategic choice to join the progress that is going on all around it.

In Iran, people are losing patience with an oppressive regime that denies them their liberty and their rights. The appearance of elections does not mask the organized cruelty of Iran’s theocratic state. The Iranian people, ladies and gentlemen, are capable of liberty. They desire liberty. And they deserve liberty. The time has come for the unelected few to release their grip on the aspirations of the proud people of Iran.

In Saudi Arabia, brave citizens are demanding accountable government. And some good first steps toward openness have been taken with recent municipal elections. Yet many people pay an unfair price for exercising their basic rights. Three individuals in particular are currently imprisoned for peacefully petitioning their government. That should not be a crime in any country.

She made especially specific and detailed remarks about her host country; no pandering here:

Now, here in Cairo, President Mubarak’s decision to amend the country’s constitution and hold multiparty elections is encouraging. President Mubarak has unlocked the door for change. Now, the Egyptian Government must put its faith in its own people. We are all concerned for the future of Egypt’s reforms when peaceful supporters of democracy — men and women — are not free from violence. The day must come when the rule of law replaces emergency decrees — and when the independent judiciary replaces arbitrary justice.

The Egyptian Government must fulfill the promise it has made to its people — and to the entire world — by giving its citizens the freedom to choose. Egypt’s elections, including the Parliamentary elections, must meet objective standards that define every free election.

Opposition groups must be free to assemble, and to participate, and to speak to the media. Voting should occur without violence or intimidation. And international election monitors and observers must have unrestricted access to do their jobs.

Rice then challenged the critics of democracy on a variety of points, including one that we hear all too often from the left (heck, I’ve heard it from Libertarian friends) which just drives me up the wall — the idea that when you prevent someone from oppressing others, you’re "imposing" something on them, denying them their "right" to be an autocrat or tyrant:

Throughout the Middle East, the fear of free choices can no longer justify the denial of liberty. It is time to abandon the excuses that are made to avoid the hard work of democracy. There are those who say that democracy is being imposed. In fact, the opposite is true: Democracy is never imposed. It is tyranny that must be imposed.

People choose democracy freely. And successful reform is always homegrown. Just look around the world today. For the first time in history, more people are citizens of democracies than of any other form of government. This is the result of choice, not of coercion.

There are those who say that democracy leads to chaos, or conflict, or terror. In fact, the opposite is true: Freedom and democracy are the only ideas powerful enough to overcome hatred, and division, and violence. For people of diverse races and religions, the inclusive nature of democracy can lift the fear of difference that some believe is a license to kill. But people of goodwill must choose to embrace the challenge of listening, and debating, and cooperating with one another.

For neighboring countries with turbulent histories, democracy can help to build trust and settle old disputes with dignity. But leaders of vision and character must commit themselves to the difficult work that nurtures the hope of peace. And for all citizens with grievances, democracy can be a path to lasting justice. But the democratic system cannot function if certain groups have one foot in the realm of politics and one foot in the camp of terror.

There are those who say that democracy destroys social institutions and erodes moral standards. In fact, the opposite is true: The success of democracy depends on public character and private virtue. For democracy to thrive, free citizens must work every day to strengthen their families, to care for their neighbors, and to support their communities.

There are those who say that long-term economic and social progress can be achieved without free minds and free markets. In fact, human potential and creativity are only fully released when governments trust their people’s decisions and invest in their people’s future. And the key investment is in those people’s education. Because education — for men and for women — transforms their dreams into reality and enables them to overcome poverty.

There are those who say that democracy is for men alone. In fact, the opposite is true: Half a democracy is not a democracy. As one Muslim woman leader has said, "Society is like a bird. It has two wings. And a bird cannot fly if one wing is broken." Across the Middle East, women are inspiring us all.


Ladies and Gentlemen: Across the Middle East today, millions of citizens are voicing their aspirations for liberty and for democracy. These men and women are expanding boundaries in ways many thought impossible just one year ago.

They are demonstrating that all great moral achievements begin with individuals who do not accept that the reality of today must also be the reality of tomorrow. 

… These impatient patriots can be found in Baghdad and Beirut, in Riyadh and in Ramallah, in Amman and in Tehran and right here in Cairo.

Together, they are defining a new standard of justice for our time — a standard that is clear, and powerful, and inspiring: Liberty is the universal longing of every soul, and democracy is the ideal path for every nation.

The day is coming when the promise of a fully free and democratic world, once thought impossible, will also seem inevitable. The people of Egypt should be at the forefront of this great journey, just as you have led this region through the great journeys of the past.

A hopeful future is within the reach of every Egyptian citizen — and every man and woman in the Middle East. The choice is yours to make. But you are not alone. All free nations are your allies. So together, let us choose liberty and democracy — for our nations, for our children, and for our shared future.

Thank you.

Like I said, astonishing and remarkable. Did you notice she used the phrase "ladies and gentlemen" three times? "Woman," "women," "girls," and "daughter" occurred more than a dozen times. There was no pandering to Muslim "cultural sensitivities," no lowered expectations, no showing respect for barbaric values.

I’ve been a bit depressed and annoyed regarding politics lately — the Republicans’ horrible domestic record, their bumbling and timid defense of the war and foreign policy, the ongoing chorus of negativism and cries of "quagmire" (against all realistic assessments from people actually on the scene), the judicial nominations compromise, the Bolton fiasco, the terrible Supreme Court decisions — it’s been just one thing after another.

Reading Condi’s speech reminded me of what’s good about this administration and why I voted Republican for the first time in eight Presidential elections. Reading Condi’s speech made me feel good and hopeful and proud. And filled my eyes with tears.

Thank you, Condi!

Addendum: Ideas have consequences. Two days after her speech:


Hundreds of Egyptian activists denounced President Hosni Mubarak’s rule during a rally in Cairo yesterday. Thousands of people lined the streets and watched from windows and balconies.

© 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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Condi on gun rights

Posted by Richard on May 14, 2005

Yesterday, Instapundit pointed out this AP story describing Condi Rice’s strong pro-gun remarks in an interview on "Larry King Live":

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, recalling how her father took up arms to defend fellow blacks from racist whites in the segregated South, said Wednesday the constitutional right of Americans to own guns is as important as their rights to free speech and religion.

Only when Countertop checked the CNN transcript of the show, those remarks weren’t in there. Turns out that CNN didn’t air that part of the interview. Why am I not surprised?

The entire interview transcript is available at the Secretary of State’s site. Go read it all, she makes lots of good points on a broad range of issues. But here’s the section on gun rights (emphasis added):

 MR. KING: By the way, what do you think about gun control?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Larry, I come out of a — my own personal experiences in which in Birmingham, Alabama, my father and his friends defended our community in 1962 and 1963 against white nightriders by going to the head of the community, the head of the cul-de-sac, and sitting there armed. And so I’m very concerned about any abridgement of the Second Amendment. I’ll tell you that I know that if Bull Connor had had lists of registered weapons, I don’t think my father and his friends would have been sitting at the head of the community defending the community.

MR. KING: So you would not change the Second Amendment? You would not —

SECRETARY RICE: I also don’t think we get to pick and choose in the Constitution. The Second Amendment is as important as the First Amendment of the —

MR. KING: But doesn’t having the guns, while it’s protection, also leads to people killing people?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, obviously, the sources of violence are many and we need to get at the sources of violence. Obviously, I’m very much in favor of things like background checks and, you know, and controlling at gun shows. And there are lots of things we can do. But we have to be very careful when we start abridging rights that our Founding Fathers thought very important. And on this one, I think that they understood that there might be circumstances that people like my father experienced in Birmingham, Alabama, when, in fact, the police weren’t going to protect you.

MR. KING: Did you see him take the guns?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, absolutely. Every night, he and his friends kind of organized a little brigade.

MR. KING: How old were you?

SECRETARY RICE: I was eight — eight years old.

MR. KING: You remember that?

SECRETARY RICE: I remember it very, very well.

MR. KING: Did you understand it, as an eight-year-old why —

SECRETARY RICE: I understood that something was deeply wrong in Birmingham, Alabama, when I didn’t have a white classmate until we moved to Denver, Colorado. I knew that these were separate societies. Our parents — I grew up in a very nice, sheltered little middle-class community in Birmingham. My mother was a schoolteacher. My father was a minister and a high school guidance counselor. And I’m still friends with a lot of the kids from that community. And we recognize that we had very special circumstances.

Our parents told us, "All right, it may be that you can’t have a hamburger a the Woolworth’s lunch counter, and it may be that you can’t go to this amusement park, Kiddieland, but don’t worry, you can do anything you want. Your horizons should be limitless in America."

MR. KING: Did you believe that?

SECRETARY RICE: And we believed it.

OK, she’s not perfect on the 2nd Amendment (that "controlling at gun shows" remark made me wince). But I think you can count on someone who came to their beliefs on this issue through the experiences she had. And reading that left me teary-eyed.

Condi for President. [Update: Like an idiot, I forgot to add the obvious link at left. Corrected.]

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