18 May 2008

Quote of the Day

"The president isn't pro this or pro that. The president is pro-democracy and pro-peace."

This comes to us from Secretary of State Rice, demonstrating a probably unconscious ability to contradict herself from one sentence to the next. She was responding to Arab complaints that the Bush administration is pro-Israel. She was apparently trying to say that her boss isn't "pro" one group or another, but "pro" certain high ideals. The problem is, of course, that like many Americans, Bush identifies Israel with both democracy and peace, regardless of the actual record, so for him consciously to be "pro-democracy" and "pro-peace" means to take Israel's side consistently. As he demonstrated again today, he tends to identify the Arab states with tyranny, if not violence, as if the faults of the region's governments somehow disqualify them from the rights of nations generally. Near the heart of the Middle East problem is this unchallenged premise that the forces of democracy (Israel) have a right to colonize or dominate the region, just as they have a right to topple any government they find threatening, the threat sometimes consisting of a government's mere existence or disagreement with a democratic nation, the democracy of course being incapable of error in such disputes. True fair dealing among nations ought to do without ideological prejudice or any presumption that one form of government ought always to prevail over others. It shouldn't matter whether a nation is a liberal republic or a tyrannical oligarchy; if the republic stole land from the tyranny, the republic is just as much in the wrong as the tyranny would be if the roles were reversed. Those who counter that republics won't behave that way need a history lesson, and fast.

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