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January 25, 2006

2005 One of the Most Successful For Freedom

Excellent:

"The glass is a quarter full, but we need more of it," said Jennifer Windsor, executive director of Freedom House, a group that promotes democracy. "The administration deserves credit, but it's just a start."

In its annual survey ranking nations as free, partly free or not free, the group upgraded nine nations or territories in 2005 and downgraded four. Among those deemed freer were Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, where peaceful revolutions overthrew entrenched governments; Lebanon, where Syrian occupation troops were pressured to withdraw; and Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories, where trailblazing elections were held. Overall, Freedom House concluded, "the past year was one of the most successful for freedom" since the survey began in 1972.

It's a surprisingly fair article, detailing where Bush has actually walked the walk and where he has only talked the talk. In many cases (China, Pakistan) strategic considerations militate against an aggressive, provocative US push for democracy, but in others -- such as in Uganda -- it's a mystery why the Administration doesn't take a tougher line against tyranny.

The President's rhetoric has good effects inside the bureaucracy:

"Anytime there's a question, should we say this or say that . . . someone can pull out a copy of the president's speech and say, 'Wait a second, may I quote from what the president said?' " the official added.

And also in the outside world:

Outside the United States, the speech inspired many fighting for freedom but also raised expectations that are hard to fulfill. "All they do is talk right now," said Gulam Umarov. His father, Sanjar Umarov, head of the opposition Sunshine Coalition in Uzbekistan, has been in prison since October. "I don't know what actual moves they take. But they are talking, which is really good."

Freedom House, a group that promotes democracy, ranks each country's political freedoms and civil liberties in an annual survey. During 2005, nine countries or territories were upgraded and four were downgraded, making it "one of the most successful for freedom" since the survey was begun in 1972.

In other places, the United States has done more than talk. In Kyrgyzstan, the U.S. government funded pro-democracy groups and provided generators to print an opposition newspaper before its revolution. Edil Baisalov, director of the Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society, can quote extensively from the Bush inaugural speech. "The Kyrgyz people are much, much better off today than they were a year ago, and I think the U.S. government should take pride in taking credit for that," he said. "And [it] should never apologize that it wants the people to be free."

Read the whole thing. It's pretty much straight down the line reportage, about a mostly positive development in the world. The bad patches are pointed out, but the reporter doesn't go making crap up just to cast a bad light on any of this.

What's surprising is just how consistent the Adminsitration has been about exporting freedom, even when important goals are jeopardized by doing so.


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posted by Ace at 01:42 AM

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