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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Stop coddling despots

In today's Los Angeles Times, Max Boot reminds us that the guy who is referred to in the blogosphere as "Ahmed in a dinner jacket" is not the only tyrant in the world. He calls on George Bush to make an example out of the second largest recipient of US foreign aid: Egypt's dictator, Hosni Mubarak:
In his remaining 986 days in office, Bush has a choice: Either he can sit back and allow the resurgence of the dictators, or he can fight back with the considerable power still at his command. His recent decision to grant a coveted White House reception to Ilham Aliyev isn't a good sign because the president of oil-rich Azerbaijan blatantly rigged his nation's parliamentary elections just six months ago. If Bush wants to show that he is still serious about promoting "the expansion of freedom," he could begin by making an example of Egypt.

Mubarak is reputedly one of Washington's closest friends in the Arab world, yet he has been among the most brazen in defying Bush's demands for greater openness while force-feeding his 78 million subjects a steady diet of anti-American and anti-Semitic drivel. His vow to hold multiparty presidential elections produced a suspect ballot last fall in which he secured 88% of a feeble turnout. Afterward, he consigned his chief challenger, Ayman Nour, to five years' hard labor on trumped-up charges of forging signatures to qualify for the ballot. The subsequent parliamentary election was even more dubious; ruling party goons used violence and fraud to keep the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition group, from winning too many seats. Now Mubarak's minions are roughing up peaceful demonstrators who support brave judges in their demand for greater independence and less electoral fraud.

Why, oh why, is this repugnant regime still getting $2 billion a year in American subsidies? Take the money away from Mubarak and give it to democracy-promotion programs across the Middle East. That would be a shot heard 'round the world. Failing such a signal, the dictators will become bolder and more brazen in defying what Bush once called "the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity."
Good question. Read it all.


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