December 2, 2011

Some U.S. democracy activists and government officials claim that the advent of new information technology and social networks can bring democracy to places like Russia, Central Asia or the Middle East. They talk in terms of the “TV Party”...

Not only are developing countries now providing two-thirds of global growth...but it is becoming clearer that effective development needs the participation not just of governments but of beneficiaries, local communities and citizens more broadly. And with 21st-century technology, we now have the means to make it happen.

November 9, 2011

The international ramifications for China's slowly rebuilding reputation would be too much to bear even for the relatively untouchable Communist Party... On the one hand, Europeans are slowly becoming more reliant on Chinese bail-out money – do not bite the hand that feeds you. On the other, Europe must maintain its soft-power credit, even if only on the surface.

Leaders such as Pires and Chissano, however, tended to understand Americans better than Americans understood them. They sought and won help from non-official America that demonstrated by their actions that America...was indeed a small “d” democracy in which millions free persons could make their own political choices to support justice in Africa.

Three major democracies... by abstaining on a censure-Syria motion... have yet again shown... that they do not side with aspiring democrats in the developing world. The stronger a country becomes the less disposed it may be to support principles it does not need for protection any more...

It is in America's best interest that Egypt develop into a state that supports tolerance and peace. U.S. assistance can and should be conditional on Egypt's adopting such values. ... "The U.S. should be clear with the Egyptian public about what kind of state it can partner with. We should define clearly the kind of country we want to see, not which leader we do or do not want to lead."

The cynical take believes that the U.S. has in fact changed its foreign policy as Obama claims and as his responses to the Arab Spring this year suggest, but has made an exception for Bahrain... The Bahraini opposition is largely Shia, but most Arabs (and most Muslims, for that matter) are Sunni. The "soft power" dividends of pushing Bahrain to reform, the U.S. may have decided, just aren't there.

The United States has the wherewithal to promote similar national resolves in the Middle East and North Africa through public diplomacy and education. Instead of giving a hand, however, the Obama Administration is celebrating violent protests and civil wars as a “spring” while promising handouts that will unfailingly find their way into the usual corrupt pockets.