A Washington Post editorial on the disgraceful hypocracy of the Arab League.
DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ had never been an abiding concern of the Arab League, but this week a committee of the 22-member organization of Arab states threw down the gauntlet to American occupation authorities and the new Iraqi Governing Council. It declined to recognize the new council, on grounds that its members were appointed by foreign authorities, not elected by the Iraqi people themselves.
The council might be a positive step toward self-government, diplomats declared, but the Iraqi seat at the august international body will remain empty until Iraq has an elected government. As the league's Secretary General Amr Moussa put it in Cairo, "The council is a start, but it should pave the way for a legitimate government that can be recognized."
By this standard, the league would have 22 empty chairs.
Not a single country in the entire Arab world has a government that enjoys the sort of democratic legitimacy the league now demands of the Iraqi council. Perhaps if Iraq had a corrupt and repressive Saudi-style monarchy -- one that forbade women from driving and that sponsored charities that promoted Islamist extremism worldwide -- it might be eligible for recognition.
Or maybe the league would be mollified if a coup brought in a military dictatorship like that of member-in-good-standing Libya.
Or if the Baath Party somehow returned and installed a leader like Bashar Assad or simply brought back Saddam Hussein, whose "legitimacy" the Arab League never paused to question and whose regime it spared little effort to save. Few organizations demand less democracy as a condition of membership or serve as a bigger tent for thugs and tyrants than does the Arab League.
Of course the Governing Council is insufficiently democratic, but it was never intended to be the end point of Iraqi political reconstruction, only its beginning -- a first step along a road to Iraqi self-government. Yet even at this early stage, the council is more representative than any of those "legitimate" Arab governments for which its electoral bona fides are inadequately established -- and Iraqis can criticize their nascent government in a way few Arab regimes would tolerate.
The prospects for political reform in the region would look far brighter if more countries had regimes as pluralistic and representative as the one the Arab League now spurns.
The Arab League Responds:
[And I translate].
The Aug. 8 editorial "Comic Relief in Cairo" contained scathing and unfair criticism of the League of Arab States:
The editorial seemed to disregard the fact that the legal status of the Iraqi governing council has not been universally determined, which prohibits the Arab League from accepting the council's representation in the league. The league's position is consistent with the one adopted by the United Nations, the World Bank and other international bodies.
[Translation: We are impotent weasels, and compare ourselves readily with other impotent weasels.]
• Despite the editorial's assumption, the Arab League, like the United Nations, is not empowered to interfere in the internal affairs of member states or dictate how they are governed as long as they meet independence standards.
[Translation: We deliberately designed our organization to be a bunch of weasels so we won't ever truly have to commit to any particular stand, not even to liberate our "Arab brothers" from the likes of a loathsome, tyrannical. brutal dictator who wipes the bottom of his shoe with the Qu'ran every time he gets in a jam and pretends to be an Allah fearing Muslim.]
• Contrary to the editorial's assertion, the league's prewar position was intended to avert war, spare the Iraqis its miserable consequences and allow international legitimacy to pursue its course.
[Translation: The league's prewar position was intended to DO NOTHING - especially not to piss off Saddam Hussein in case things turned out badly...but ours was just like the other weasels' positions.]
• The Arab League is working with those concerned to resolve the complexities of Iraq's legal and political situation. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell recently asserted that he is looking forward to further talks with the league about these issues.
[Translation: The Arab league continues its pattern of meaningless dialogue while keeping vigilant to pimp something out of the United States wherever possible. The US Secretary of State's comments about "further talks" with the league is Diplomatese for "we've accomplished nothing with this group to this point...maybe next time.]
Finally, The Post's editorial, which seemed to demonize the Arabs, will play into the hands of extremists who harbor the same ill will toward the Arab world as they do toward the United States. The Post should look into the context as well as the text, and it should perhaps reach out to better understand the Arab League, its mission and its endeavors.
[Translation: The accurate portrayal of Arabs by the Post will play into the hands of extremists who harbor the same ill will toward the Arab world as they do to the US...that is to say, our own people who are fed up with the arrested social and economic development in the Arab world at the hands of autocrats and thugs who to this point manage to keep their subjects at bay by having them suck from the teat of oil rendering them all fat and lazy.]
League of Arab States
And without even realizing it, Mr. HH has published in the Washington Post the Arab's justification for the strong foreign policy of the United States.
Leadership is not a trait of committees.
Inherently, committees such as the UN and the Arab League are proponents of the lowest common denominator. They cannot do what is best, only that to which they can all agree.
Inherently committees eventually take on the characteristics of their most liberal members. All too frequently this includes the liberal concept that there is no such thing as right and wrong, simply moral relativism.
Leaders, however, while happy to have colleagues, need none. While happy to have affirmation, require none.
And when leaders look around and recognize themselves for what they are...the biggest on the block and still in possession of a profound sense of right and wrong, they act.
This week NPR has aired views from around the world about how others see America. Big surprise, turns out that much of the rest of the world does not like the fact that the US is capable of and willing to act unilaterally in our foreign policy.
Well guess what world, that which you call unilateralism, we call leadership.
We'll be happy to have you join us...but if you don't, well frankly, we don't give a damn.
That is both the price and the privelige of leadership.