Cedar and NeoCons Perhaps more stunning than elections in Iraq and Afghanistan are the elections that are taking place in Lebanon. Here, in the location of what was the only truly occupied land in the Middle East, the popular, non-violent uprising kicked out the occupying nation, prepared for Democratic elections, and then began the process. The first of three elections took place on Sunday in Beirut where
The son of murdered former premier Rafiq Hariri scored a clean sweep in the Beirut round of Lebanon's elections, the first in three decades held free of the grip of neighbouring Syria, officials said on Monday.
According to observers, the polling was "open and transparent" which is already an improvement over any election held during the Syrian occupation.
In using the US as a model for success, it must be recognized that political freedom is only part of the solution. The other part is economic freedom. Some may ask "why should Arabs use the US as a model?" Glad you asked.
The reason is that the US is precisely the place where Arabs have the most freedom and prosperity.
People of Arab descent living in the United States are doing far better than the average American. That is the surprising conclusion drawn from data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2000 and released last March. The census found that U.S. residents who report having Arab ancestors are better educated and wealthier than average Americans.
Whereas 24 percent of Americans hold college degrees, 41 percent of Arab Americans are college graduates. The median income for an Arab family living in the United States is $52,300—4.6 percent higher than other American families—and more than half of all Arab Americans own their home. Forty-two percent of people of Arab descent in the United States work as managers or professionals, while the same is true for only 34 percent of the general U.S. population. For many, this success has come on quickly: Although about 50 percent of Arab Americans were born in the United States, nearly half of those born abroad did not arrive until the 1990s.
That immigrants do better than their compatriots back home is of course no surprise. What is far less common is for immigrants to perform that much better than the average population of their adopted home. This fact should prompt important debates that transcend how Arab immigrants are faring in the United States.
Europe, it might be noted also has political freedom, but their economic freedom is significantly curtailed by high taxes due to the "Welfare State". Additionally, unlike in the US, Muslim and Arab immigrants are not integrated into society because there are no work requirements in the welfare state. As a result
...how does one explain why Arab immigrants in Europe are worse off than those in the United States? Why are leaders of Arab communities in France warning that social and racial tensions are in danger of creating a “social and political atom bomb”? Sure, France may be an extreme case, but the situation of Arabs in the rest of Europe is hardly better. In general, Muslims living in Europe—of which Arabs constitute a significant proportion—are poorer, less educated, and in worse health than the rest of the population. In the Netherlands, the unemployment rate for ethnic Moroccans is 22 percent, roughly four times the rate for the country as a whole. In Britain, the Muslim population has the highest unemployment rate of all religious groups. The failure of Arabs in Europe is particularly worrisome given that 10 of the states or entities along Europe’s eastern and southern borders are home to nearly 250 million Muslims—most of them Arabs—with a birthrate more than double that of Europeans.
Clearly, political freedom is not enough. But it is just as clear that those who believe Arabs and Muslims in general are not capable of navigating the sophisticated political and economic waters of free societies are demonstrably wrong.
Arabs and Muslims as well as Christians in the Middle East are seizing the opportunities afforded by the fall and rebuilding of Iraq. Lebanon is just the most recent example of these oppressed peoples reaching for the golden ring. As opposition leader, and former anti-American Walid Jumblatt noted
"It's strange for me to say it, but this process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq," explains Jumblatt. "I was cynical about Iraq. But when I saw the Iraqi people voting three weeks ago, 8 million of them, it was the start of a new Arab world." Jumblatt says this spark of democratic revolt is spreading. "The Syrian people, the Egyptian people, all say that something is changing. The Berlin Wall has fallen. We can see it."
But the "neo-cons" who always believed in them, never doubted they could and would do it if given the chance. Over two years ago, The Washington Post profiled Paul Wolfowitz and remarked
Wolfowitz's fervent belief in what he calls "the power of the democratic idea" -- and its applicability to a part of the world better known for authoritarian regimes, many of them closely allied to Washington -- has won him both admirers and detractors.
To his supporters, Wolfowitz is a visionary thinker, a tough-minded intellectual with a streak of idealism. While emphasizing that he was not alone in calling for the United States to confront Hussein, they credit him with helping to devise a daring strategy for the Iraqi leader's overthrow that will reshape the politics of the Middle East in a way that will be hugely beneficial for the United States.
But how much of a stretch was it really? I mean, the power of the democratic idea inspired us. And when we were successful, it inspired others, like France. And more than two centuries later, America is still the model for freedom and prosperity. Still the Shining City upon the Hill, whether or not people want to admit it.
To say that we could do it but Arabs and Muslims can not is, in its essence, a racist belief. Just like not holding Arab nations and organizations to account is racist because by making excuses,the underlying thought is that can't do any better.
"I have never seen so much loose thinking about democracy," countered Thomas Carothers, a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has studied U.S. democracy-building efforts worldwide. "The idea that you can produce a democratic tidal wave throughout the Arab world is a dangerous fantasy."
Is that so...
Parade Podcasting Yesterday I photoblogged the Vergennes Memorial Day parade and while I was snapping photos, Bob Robinson was podcasting the event. Go listen, your humble Cool Blue One makes a cameo appearance.
Landmark The 1,000th reconstruction project was completed in Iraq. Did you know that? Do you ask why?
BAGHDAD,<>> <>>Iraq,<>> <>>May 31, 2005<>> <>>–<>> <>>The public spotlight recently shone on an unassuming, eight-classroom school in the town of Zakho, Iraq, and for good reason. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division, responsible for oversight of reconstruction in Iraq, announced it had identified Betas School as its 1,000th completed reconstruction project.
The Betas School, located amid rolling hills on the outskirts of the town of Zahko, in the northernmost province of Dahuk, is home to headmaster Ibraheem Nuri, 60 students, and seven teachers.
But if you were to Senator Patty Murray of Washington state, we just catching up to all the wonderful things Osama bin Laden does. From Answers.com
In October 2002 Murray was one of only 23 senators to vote against the Iraq war resolution. In December 2002, Murray made the following controversial comments before a high school audience at Vancouver, Washington:
- Osama bin Laden has been very, very effective being we've got to ask, why is this man so popular around the world?
- Why are people so supportive of him in many countries? He has been in many countries that are riddled with poverty.
- People don't have phones, no sewers, no roads, no schools, no health care, no facilities just to make sure their daily lives are OK.
- He's been out in these countries for decades building roads, building schools, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. It made their lives better.
If OBL was busy doing all of this, why was Afghanistan such shit hole when we got there? But I really like the day-care facilities remark. You know, like mothers in Taliban Afghanistan dropped the kids off when they went to work at Taliban U. The only thing I know of that Osama built was terrorist training camps.
Of course, if Sen Murray had her way, the Betas Schools would not exist.
And they certainly wouldn't be teaching girls.