Thursday, July 07, 2005

It's about time

We should all look to a future when every government respects the will of its citizens -- because the ideal of democracy is universal. For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East -- and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.

If I was the one who wrote this, some people would accuse me of being anti-American. But, it was not me - this is an excerpt from a speech given in Cairo a couple of weeks ago by Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State. Rice did not stop there - her speech continued on lambasting other countries in the Middle East, including traditional American allies Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and even drew an analogy between the slavery her ancestors suffered and Western colonialism in the Middle East. The full text of Rice's speech can be found here.

It was pleasing for me to read the text of Rice's speech. It's about time that an official of the American government has publicly admitted America's prior mistakes in foreign relations. As Rice acknowledged, America's has not done a very good job of promoting the ideals of democracy outside its own borders over the past several decades, choosing instead to prop up various tin-pot dictators who in turn agreed to safeguard America's short-term interests. This type of policy has given the US a reputation as a nation of hypocrites, and has fomented hatred for Americans in many places, particularly in the Middle East.

Admitting that one has a problem is the first step in rehabilitation, and in that context, it was very reassuring to hear this type of statement coming from Condoleezza Rice, a woman who I think is well placed to be the next US president. I only hope that the US government continues this trend and puts their money where their mouths are over the next few years, putting long-term goals and the promotion of real American values ahead of short-term interests. If this trend does continue, it will take the wind out of the sails of hate-fueled terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, and will help to promote world stability.