The Financial Times has an article about George W. Bush again speaking about the need to limit the US dependency on foreign oil. Within the article was an odd quote from Bush about elections and the Middle East. I wasn't quite sure what to make of the excerpt of Bush's speech to the National Association of Governors, so I looked up the text of the full speech. And it made me even more confused:
It's an interesting debate that's going to take place here in Washington, or is taking place in Washington: Do elections cause radicalism or empower radicals? My answer is, the status quo empowered radicals. This notion that somehow the Middle East was a safe place for the last 30 years -- because we didn't see, kind of, the turmoil that happens with elections meant we were safe. I just totally disagree with that, kind of the -- beneath the surface that appeared placid, the policymakers, was resentment and hatred and planning and plotting, all of which came home on September the 11th.
I've read that paragraph five times, and I still don't know what he's saying. I realize that any time Bush invokes September 11th, it's typically to decieve and confuse. But in this case, I think he's saying something about elections being either good...or bad...or inconsequential...or, well, something. Is he arguing that the lack of elections are a problem, and that's one of the reasons we should
allow the United Arab Emirates to operate terminals in US ports um, threaten to cut off aid to Egypt unless Mubarak opens up the political system say bad things about Syria as long as it's a repressive regime? Is he saying that Palestinian democracy is bad when it leads to Hamas taking control of the Palestinian parliament democratic elections are why everything is all of a sudden so peaceful in Iraq Or is he saying that elections in repressive states with corrupt governments will often result in strong showings by radical parties, which in the Middle East and North Africa will typically be Islamist parties? Is he saying anything that's coherent?
If anyone can decipher that paragraph, please post your interpretation in the comments, and you'll earn my gratitude, plus a year's free subscription to The Next Hurrah.