The Arab Berlin Wall?

The Arab Berlin Wall?

The Arab Berlin Wall?

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
March 1 2005 8:03 PM

The Arab Berlin Wall?

Vote like an Egyptian: Matthew Yglesias needles conservatives for not getting more excited about Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's announcement that his country will hold multiparty elections this September. "This is a pretty unambiguous success for Bush's second term freedom kick," he writes. "It's also a stunning refutation of those of us who argued that he'd never follow through on his lofty rhetoric." Justifying his lack of excitement, conservative Mick Stockinger says that "[a]n announcement isn't the same thing as an election, a protest of 10,000 people or a mass resignation of an entire government. We've certainly seen announcements of this type before, but women still can't vote in Kuwait." Liberal überblogger Atrios (aka Duncan Black) damns Bush and his supporters with faint praise: "George Bush might actually be sincere in his new mission, though I don't think he has a deep grasp of what 'democracy' is, but most [conservatives] aren't." Conservative blog Belgravia Dispatch is quick to take the bait: "What cheap snake-oil Duncan peddles hither-dither! Tell Lech Walesa that 'Republicans have never stopped being isolationist.' "

Iraqi blog Hammorabi is encouraged by the recent turn of events in Egypt. "This is good but very slow," he writes. "What happened in East Europe is looming in the Arab worlds." Charles Levinson provides a roundup of the Arab media's reactions and worries that the civil-society bloc that has been urging democracy may be shut out of the elections. Pointing to an Arab newspaper that Levinson leaves out, Abu Aardvaark writes, "the one perspective which appears nowhere in this roundup is … that this will smooth the way for Gamal Mubarak to succeed his father, to be an elected George W. Bush rather than an appointed Bashar al Assad."

Heartened by Mark Steyn's proclamation that the "Arab World's Berlin Wall has fallen," the blog Back of the Envelope, which usually finds Bush "too moderate," writes, "Elections in Iraq and Palestine, reforms in Egypt, the Syrian puppet government resigning in Lebanon ... it's crazy, but we might actually see democracy throughout the Middle East in the next ten years, and we'll have Bush to blame. ... Now if only we don't lose it in Russia." Obsidian Wings is similarly optimistic but notes that Togo's recent move toward democracy has come about without any Western shoehorning.


Read more about Mubarak's announcement here.

Juvenile death penalty. Don't do it: Today, the Supreme Court cited social science studies and European law in finding the juvenile death penalty unconstitutional. (Read the decision here.) Conservative blog Powerline huffs, "The Supreme Court is disdainful of public opinion in the U.S. as expressed by the laws passed by Congress and the state legislatures, but respectful of public opinion in Europe." Daily Kos spin-off blog The Next Hurrah finds "hope for the ultimate abolition of the death penalty" in a decision that "will surely make the strict constructionalists and other legal scholars from the Taliban school of exegesis go absolutely crazy."

Read Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on the juvenile death penalty here  and William Saletan here, and more blogs here.

Foer scorecard: Deborah Solomon's New York Times Magazine profile of Jonathan Safran Foer makes "Barbara Walters' pre-Oscar interviews seem sane, cynical, and impressively unfazed by the notion of 'celebrity.' " So says the MediaBistro blog GalleyCat, which also notes that Foer "applies a med school student's discipline to the task of talking about himself." The blog Edrants also can't resist mocking Solomon's thinly veiled love for her interview subject in this long parody. Disruptivejuxtaposition, though, steps up to defend both Foer and Solomon. The profile "starts off as a typical NYT Mag portrait piece … and changes, I think even to Solomon's surprise, via Foer's own earnest concern with what it means to be human & humane etc. today, into an acute vignette of human foible, eccentricity, and yearning for communion."

Read more about Foer here.

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Bidisha Banerjee is the San Francisco-based co-author of a forthcoming Yale Climate and Energy Institute/Centre for International Governance Innovation report on scenario planning for solar radiation management. She is collaborating on a geoengineering game and has written about geoengineering governance for Slate and the Stanford Journal of Law, Science, and Policy.