Retrenchment and Reform


Two apparent fizzles in the drive for reform in the Arab world. Across the Bay calls the recent reformist gathering in Morocco a "victory of Arab pathology and stalemate." What happened? State's "'Powellites' had decided to basically dump any serious demands on democratic reform and opted to focus on economic reform. Needless to say,this is precisely what the Arab regimes wanted all along, and what the Europeans wanted as well."

Powell claimed the meeting was a great success. "[W]e have progressed to the point where this rather disparate group of nations can come around and say we will talk about these issues. That makes it a success."

"Please," responds Across the Bay, "contain your excitement! Again, Powell in a nutshell. Can you lower the standards any more?"

A wary Across the Bay hopes "that the M.E. liberals, and their hopes of a US commitment to democratic reform, have not been left out in the cold."

Meanwhile, Thomas Friedman weeps over what he reports to be the Bush administration's interference in an Arab Human Development Report on "the lagging state of governance in the Arab world." Friedman thinks "It is just the sort of independent report that could fuel the emerging debate on Arab reform." (A UN official confirmed Friedman's assertions, but the State Dept denies it has interfered in the report's release.)