[TODAY]Bush’s freedom policy is no jokeIt is significant indeed that U.S. President George W. Bush’s desire to expand freedom to the whole world has settled on Egypt and Saudi Arabia first. In his State of the Union address on Wednesday, he said, “Saudi Arabia can demonstrate its leadership in the region by expanding the role of its people in determining their future,” a clear order for democracy in Saudi Arabia. He also urged Egypt to start on the road to democracy.
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy in the Middle East, and Egypt is far from being a democracy. Nevertheless, until now, the United States has refrained from trying to pressure these two countries, mainly for security reasons and its own economic interests. Members of the royal family of Saudi Arabia are old friends and business partners of the Bush family. As for Egypt, the United States has always worried that any discord with the country might derail a solution to the Palestine problem.
For these reasons, critics have said that the Bush administration is being hypocritical to declare that it will support democracy all over the world while it tolerates the suppression of freedom and human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Russia, China and Pakistan.
However, Mr. Bush’s request of the United States’ closest Middle Eastern allies during his State of the Union speech showed that his resolve to expand freedom was no joke.
This is a strong message. Mr. Bush’s statement can create tension in Washington’s relationships with Saudi Arabia and Egypt, as well as incite and stimulate the potential pro-democracy forces in the two countries. We can see that Mr. Bush’s words will have an explosive impact in international politics if we consider the State of the Union address with his inaugural speech, which encouraged those who are groaning under oppressive regimes to fight for freedom.
Why should Saudi Arabia and Egypt be mentioned first? The answer is that the Bush administration sees the Middle East as a model for the eradication of tyrannical rule. It is in the same context that Mr. Bush asked Syria, in plain words, to stop all support to terrorists and open the door to freedom. The successful elections in Iraq appear to have given Mr. Bush a great deal of confidence in his ability to bring democracy to the entire Middle East region.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s recent mention of the six “outposts of tyranny,” President Bush’s proclamation of the expansion of freedom and the confirmation of the policy to pursue freedom and democracy through the State of the Union address all have the same root.
During the State of the Union address last year, Mr. Bush said that the heavy-handed regimes of the Middle East cause despair and rage, and that this despair and rage drive the movement and men behind terrorists acts that threaten the safety of the United States. To this line of thinking, Ms. Rice added her statement about the outposts of tyranny.
Now, it is Mr. Bush’s attitude toward Uzbekistan, Russia and Pakistan that commands our attention. All three countries are important to the establishment of the United States’ Eurasian safety belt, which passes through Central Asia, the Middle East and links the Balkan Peninsula. There is a U.S. Army base in Uzbekistan that is absolutely necessary for its mission in Afghanistan, which is why the United States has been shunning criticism of the tyrannical rule in that country. If it were not for the cooperation of Pakistan, the United States would not have been able to drive out the Taliban in Afghanistan so easily. And Russia supported the United States’ war on terror after the Sept. 11 attacks.
When he meets with the leaders of these three countries, Mr. Bush is in a position to discuss issues of freedom and human rights for the sake of consistency in policy to expand freedom. If he does not, critics will attack him for being a hypocrite once again.
The surprising thing is that North Korea was only mentioned briefly in President Bush’s State of the Union speech: “We are working closely with governments in Asia to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions.” However, North Korea had already been included in Ms. Rice’s list of “outposts of tyranny” that should be dismantled.
Mr. Bush said that the power of freedom is the strongest weapon to eradicate tyranny. It does not seem to be a coincidence that the story on North Korean uranium, which was reported last year, was rekindled and leaked again, this time alleging that the North sold processed uranium to Libya ― just in time for the State of the Union address.
Policies that are driven by religious beliefs do not have brakes that work. Mr. Bush is a person with a determinist historical view, like Hegel and Karl Marx. He believes that history is destined to go in a direction that is decided by freedom and the creator of freedom, God. On top of that, Bush is a Manichaean, who divides the world into light and darkness, black and white, good and evil.
North Korea should not be at ease just because Mr. Bush mentioned it only briefly. This must be simply an expression of his thinking that the North Korean nuclear issue should be resolved through dialogue first. However, another option, that force should be used if talks fail, is still alive and well.
* The writer is a senior columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Kim Young-hie