Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Mideast Muddle of Democracy

In what turns out to have been no April Fool's joke, Hamid Karzai blames fraud in Afghanistan's recent elections on "foreigners," and President Obama's national security adviser is not amused.

Brushing off such allegations, retired Gen. Jim Jones tells Jim Lehrer that that the Afghan president's progress against corruption is "very embryonic," citing the people's need "to pay bribes to do business, or pay off officials, or pay police for order to exist."

After eight years of fighting there, Americans are still lecturing its government about basic decency, as the President undoubtedly did on his trip last weekend, and hoping that the high cost in lives and money will somehow make the US safer against terrorism.

Against Iran, an impatient Obama is pressuring China to help "ratchet the pressure" against Teheran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, another Mideast project that has borne no fruit after years of alternating threats and negotiation.

Back in Iraq, a war presumably won by Gen. David Petraeus' counterinsurgency genius, the post-election climate is muddier than ever with the Shiite militant Moktada al-Sadr reappearing to take advantage of the close election victory of Ayad Allawi by threatening to hold his own election for prime minister--a development that has the potential for a renewal of violence in Baghdad.

In the past weeks, with Americans mesmerized by the machinations of their own politicians in the bizarre struggle over health care reform, the project to bring democracy to the Mideast, inherited from master strategists George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, has been continuing at its own deadly pace.

Back here, the stakes in civil disarray are votes in November but, as always, for our young people over there, much higher.

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