Democracy Arsenal

« Iraq: Peace Process or Bust | Main | Kidnapper President »

June 30, 2005

Democracy with Rice
Posted by Heather Hurlburt

Condoleezza Rice's recent trip to Egypt and Saudi Arabia is having quite a second life in the blogosphere.  You can start over at and follow related links to find her fans hyperventilating over everything from her new haircut to her stance against all gun control.  (Next week, when my beloved is off work and caring for BloggerBabe, I will be trying to verify this site's claim that her father "hunted Klansmen, not ducks" -- count me politely skeptical for now.)

Exhibit B is a Weekly Standard piece by an ABC reporter who breathed deeply of the rarefied air on Air Force Two-and-a-Half, as we used to call the Secretary's plane.   He is positive, positive that no one has ever taken it to the Saudis like Secretary Rice.  He is struck, well, dumb by the sight of bright toenail polish on a Saudi woman reporter.  (Guess he's never read any of those trashy exposes on the lives of wealthy Saudi women, or he'd expect nailpolish...)

Finally we have the pile-on hapening over at America Abroad, where at last count something close to 30 posters had signed on to slam Anne-Marie Slaughter for suggesting that Rice's remarks in Cairo showed a welcome humility.

I'm struck by the contrast between the ABC reporter's breathy insistence that "Condoleezza Rice did something no US Secretary of State has ever done in the Middle East" and the equally fervent insistence of Slaughter's critics that Rice "lies through her teeth over and over again."

About that Cairo speech:  the Weekly Standard asserts that the White House sent senior adviser, former chief speechwriter, and acknowledged speech genius Michael Gerson along to help out the 25-year old speechwriter.  Call me cynical (maybe it comes from having been a 20-something writer on that plane once upon a time) but the speech is only average to good for Gerson's usual.  And it seems to have produced more rapture among Americans than among its intended Arab audience.  I would say that it appears to have been written more with an American audience in mind, but perhaps instead I should say "with an American mindSET." 

(Note to Christian Bale, the State Department speechwriter:  way to hang tough and get the stuff they cut from your draft into the media.  Bet your boss didn't appreciate that!)

AND not much in it is as new as the Administration would like you to believe.  Yes, the Administration is currently pressing Cairo and Riyadh more openly and vigorously than has been the case in a while.  For that they deserve credit.  But their mismanagement of Iraq, their lethargy on Middle East peace, and their inability to develop a serious energy policy, have at the same time left the US even more at the mercy of the "friendly" Arab despots than we were seven years ago, when Madeleine Albright created a similar fuss by descending to the Saudi tarmac in a vee-necked, knee-length dress and shaking hands with her Saudi counterparts.

I'm delighted to have our Secretary of State talking about all governments being "inherently imperfect" and recalling that the US has "no call for false pride and every reason for humility."  It's an invitation for the reformers we are trying to help to tell us what they really need, and ask us to stop sending what we think they need instead.  It's an invitation for others to call us on it when our humility falls short.

But all Secretaries of State learn, most of them painfully, that making elegant speeches in place of elegant policies only gets you so far.  The risk of being Secretary, especially, we've seen, of being a woman and/or minority Secretary, is that you are not merely a policymaker; you are a totem of all things great and good, all things American.  It starts to seem as if saying something can make it so.  Playing to that is tempting; being judged for it later, excruciating.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Democracy with Rice:


"It's an invitation for the reformers we are trying to help to tell us what they really need, and ask us to stop sending what we think they need instead. It's an invitation for others to call us on it when our humility falls short."

That's certainly a start in the right direction, which I give her, and the speech, credit for.

One big gap in our efforts, though, is our failure to engage the Islamists. Merely choosing "the reformers we are trying to help," and ignoring other groups who have more genuine public support, is very shortsighted. If we're serious about democracy in Egypt, we really should start opening a dialogue with some of the more moderate leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood -- since they are the ones who have the widest public support. (It hasn't been widely reported in the American press, but the Brotherhood has had the largest public demostrations against Mubarak in recent months, in terms of sheer turnout. That should tell us something.)

To the extent that the government isn't doing this, I think it would be a good idea for American research organizations and NGOs to do so.

Greg Priddy

I think you may find that many would-be reformers in places like Egypt would like us to "help" by staying away from them, seeing as how their reform-minded constituencies typically see us as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account

thanks for your article!
Shoring scaffolding for construction is a very useful tool.
Books printed by China printing is very good quality and good prices.
Plastic products made by injection molding services with low costs and supeior quality.

CHEAP rs gold
MY lotro gold
CHEAPEST aion gold

Thank you for your sharing.! seslichat seslisohbet

Thank you for your sharing! I like i very much!

Time is money, and many people pay their debts with it.Do you like the ugg boots?

thanks for sharing Sohbet many people are pay more attention to one's wearing than before, especially a watch. Chat .
Perhaps when you went to some place far away Chat you must borrow it from friends Sohbet you can get everything you want in this game
Chat money to invest in other industry which will return you good profit. Sohbet when you look at the surface of the watches
Egitim from the city you live in and thought you knew nobody there exsohbet

en güzel rokettube videoları,
en muhteşem sex izleme sitesi
en kral rokettube yeri
kaliteli pornoların bulunduğu tek mekan
yabancı sitelerden özenle seçilmiş muhteşem ötesi porn sitesi...

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.

Guest Contributors
Sign-up to receive a weekly digest of the latest posts from Democracy Arsenal.
Powered by TypePad


The opinions voiced on Democracy Arsenal are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of any other organization or institution with which any author may be affiliated.
Read Terms of Use