Sunday, February 26, 2006

Stretching the definition of The Democracy Project :: The Corner on National Review - Part I

[Visitors from the Washington Post, please check this welcome statement.]

Andy McCarthy posts a paragraph (click title link above) from a friend who asks some tough questions about whether, in supporting the UAE/Dubai in the port deal, Bush isn't stretching the definition of the Democracy Project rather far.

Readers of The Emirates Economist will note that stretching the definition is in effect what I have been doing in arguing that the port deal supports the Virtue leg of the Vigilance and Virtue strategy in the war on terrorism.

McCarthy's correspondent tries to put UAE and Saudi Arabia in the same basket. Yet the difference between them is vast. Try living in both just a while and you'll know it's not far off to say the UAE is an open society with a popular government. Follow the news from the past several years and you will know that the citizens of the UAE are respected by their government and listened to even though it is not what we in the west would call democracy. And concrete steps are being taken towards elected government.

Women are in the cabinet in numbers proportionate to their representative in Bush's cabinet - or Clinton's for that matter. Among citizens pursuing higher education 70% are women.

Human rights issues. Yes, but the bulk are of this sort - low-wage workers come to this country voluntarily and live in conditions superior to those back home, but not like those most of us view as acceptable. That is, it's the Nike critique, which I don't buy. There have been breach of contract issues with workers and these have blemished the country's image for good reason. The UAE recognizes that it is in its interest to enforce contracts and is taking concrete steps in that direction.

Underage camel jockeys is a longstanding issue and it is not good that it has taken the government so long to doing something about it rather than giving it lip service. That said, in the last year real progress has been made.

The UAE supports the Democracy Project in Iraq. And the UAE's support - unspoken perhaps - is with the repressed majority in Iran.

In short, I believe a compelling case can be made that the UAE fits the profile of the kind of state that will lead the Middle East out of a dark period in its history. It fits the so-called Democracy Project.

For later: Part II - Pakistan v. UAE.


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Blogger Punk Dervish said...

I m excited about part 2 .UAE and Pakistan are in different geographical regions and different economical and political situations.Lets see how you compare them.

8:56 PM  

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