Bringing Democracy to the Middle East


This morning's Los Angeles Times features a fascinating account of how our Middle Eastern allies are desperately trying to hide from their citizens the fact that they are in any way aiding the U.S. war effort. A couple of excerpts:

In Cairo, a senior official was asked by a Western journalist recently if Egypt had granted the United States overflight rights for combat planes.

"I haven't seen anything on that," he said. After pausing, he added: "Yes, Egypt has, but it's not something that needs mentioning. That would just inflame things."

Such official attitudes explain why there's been virtually no media mention in Egypt of the U.S. warships passing through the Suez Canal in recent days.

Although the strategy of denial appears to have prevented any immediate challenge to pro-U.S. governments in the region, some leaders worry about the longer-term implications. At a news conference this month, Qatari Foreign Minister Hamad Jassim expressed his concerns with unusual frankness:

"Some say we have no military bases, others say we don't have a single American soldier, and there are those who say I will never authorize activities" helping the American military.

"All these are word games," the minister said. "We are fooling our people, and it is because of that that we will have problems with them."