The Bush administration is preparing to launch a "Greater Middle East Initiative" at the G-8 summit meeting in June. The time is indeed opportune for engagement on regional reform, but as planned, the initiative fails to establish a basis for genuine partnership and does little to address the real challenges of Arab democratization.
U.S. and European leaders want to see greater freedom, and democracy in the Middle East. Americans see this as the crucial battleground in the war on terror; Europeans want their southern neighbors to be stable and well-governed, to stem the flows of illegal migration and organized crime. Working with local partners for peaceful democratic regime change is the best way to achieve these goals.
What happened to campaign-finance reform? Did the McCain-Feingold reform bill—and its successful defense in court—accomplish anything? President Bush is set to shatter all fund-raising records this year. Next time McCain and company set their sights on reform, they should learn from countries like Mexico, Latvia and Thailand that have appointed fair, nonpartisan oversight boards.
Countries with a combination of a large land mass and a sizeable population tend to be chronically unstable politically and economically. Allowing their problems to fester, the case all too often in the past, is a source of continuing hardship to their citizens and neighbors alike. The international community needs to consider a new approach to the problems of these nations.