Posts Tagged ‘Corruption’
For years, skeptics in the United States have doubted the existence of the so-called moderate Muslim. Just where are these middle class Arabs we keep hearing about who just want peace and democracy instead of holy war? Well, we’ve now heard these pro-democracy Muslims make some noise – Tunisian protestors ousted their dictator within a month of their ‘Jasmine Revolution’ and days later the governments of Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and Albania saw unprecedented numbers of demonstrators in the streets showing the world their discontent with the status quo.
So we now know that there are masses of Arab Muslims who are passionate about steering their nations towards democracy. However, it does not appear that they consider the United States to be a suitable partner on their path. In fact, it’s not clear that the opposition movements are interested in a secular or Western- style government at all.
If anything, the governments targeted by the pro-democracy movements across the Muslim world reek of corruption, decadence and totalitarian repression. These regimes have all enjoyed public American support, but none of the positive aspects of American-style democracy seem to have been included in their bilateral agreements with the United States. Freshly ousted Tunisian President Ben Ali enjoyed excellent economic and political relations with the United States, and provided a business-friendly environment to foreign investors; at the same time Tunisia’s citizens lived under a ‘1984-style’ culture of spying and fear, while Ben Ali’s family was extorting and embezzling billions of Tunisia’s riches. Algeria’s relations with the United States have improved steadily while the nation’s corruption score is 2.9 out of 10; Algeria’s horrendous human rights record is rife with reports of torture and execution by security forces and government backed militias. The United States also cultivates highly cooperative relationships with Egypt, Jordan and even Yemen in the past few years, as the governments of these nations find their positions at risk in the rise of Islamic fundamentalist violence.
The problem is that the governments of these nations are largely illegitimate themselves. Jordan is ruled by a monarchy fraught with corruption and abuse of public office, while the nation itself remains cash-strapped and aid-dependent. Hosni Mubarak and his family are hugely unpopular and widely viewed as nepotists and thieves. But they have been important and compliant, if not exemplary, allies to the United States in economic, political and military matters.
This friendship with America may end up being the nail in the coffin for these regimes. Demonstrators are protesting what they see as American imperialism as much as they are protesting the leadership itself. So while the Obama administration carefully words its message of support for the pro-democracy movement in the Arab world, politicians and citizens alike have to wonder whether we would truly like to see legitimate, fairly elected democracies exist in Africa and the Middle East – because these democracies may look very different from what we had in mind for our friends in the Arab world. Socialist or Islamic, it’s likely they may not be friends much longer at all.
By Kathryne Gadarian, World News Editor
By Kathryne Gadarian
I really didn’t want to write the run-of-the-mill-top-story-of-2010 blog post on New Year’s Eve, but my boss told me that I had to put in at least one paragraph. And since it’s usually me who bosses him around (he’s my husband), I thought it only fair and in the holiday spirit to follow his orders this once. So here it is: the Mandatory Most World Top Story of 2010. The winner in this dubious contest? Haiti, of course.
It’s stating the obvious, and perhaps even the mundane at this point, but without question, the most shocking single world event of the past year was the 7.0 earthquake that struck just outside of the Haitian capital of Port-Au-Prince on January 12, 2010, killed over 200,000 and leaving millions of already impoverished citizens homeless.
This story lived on the home pages of news websites for well over a month, and we watched Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN grow leathery, thin and increasingly famous during their feature coverage of orphaned children, grieving families and fatigued health workers. Celebrity and native Haitian Wyclef Jean raised over $1 million dollars for disaster relief through his charity Yele Haiti, and then was immediately investigated for financial misconduct and fraud, leading Jean to later admit to ‘administrative errors’. Jean later made news again for his impassioned bid for the Haitian presidency, which failed.
We discovered in July that of the $5.3 billon pledged by donors in emergency relief, only 2% had been paid, and only four countries – Australia, Estonia, Norway, and Brazil – had paid anything at all. International adoption demand for Haitian children skyrocketed, causing controversy and kidnapping allegations; but also many happy endings for childless families and family-less children. Nearly one year later, Haiti still struggles with extreme poverty, disease, homelessness and corruption, but tiny milestones mark progress towards some version of recovery.
Like most tragedies, this disaster brought out the best in people (Presidents Clinton and Bush), and the worst in others (Pat Robertson). Hopefully the next decade will be a kinder one to this embattled Caribbean nation, and maybe we can spare a thought or two for them in their struggle when we’re tired of obsessing about our own.