Can We Praise Something Not Extraordinary?

Heroes of Retreat, Revisited – By Christian Caryl | Foreign Policy.

An op-ed worth the read.  The writer argues we should notice the actions of those who do great things politically without the great story behind them that can be sold through the media.  Some may look at this Burmese president, Thein Sein, and say he doesn’t deserve too much praise because he just satisfied the will of his people by giving them more power.  But we should remember the recent history of the Arab Spring and the reluctance of the powerful to easily give up their hold on a country, such as Gaddafi in Libya or Assad in Syria.  What Sein is doing deserves some recognition and should be commended by those favoring democratic reforms around the world.

Interesting Release From the State Department

A short press release was issued by the State Department today regarding a very small amount of funding ($1.5 million) going toward the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development for the countries of Jordan, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia.  The statement has some interesting tidbits but one short sentence in this statement was particularly fascinating:

Other donors will fund the OECD project in Egypt.

Hmm.  Looks like someone isn’t too interested in U.S. support anymore.  The reason for others donating to Egypt and not the U.S. was not given but I’m assuming the Egyptians have decided they have received enough ‘help’ from America over the past few decades and aren’t too keen on wanting much more.  In fact, this could be the big difference between Libya accepting these funds and Egypt wanting them to come from other countries.  The U.S. at least denounced Libya’s brutal dictator, Gaddafi, more profoundly (even while working with him) compared to America’s almost unending support for former Egyptian dictator, Mubarak.  The Egyptian people clearly have long memories when it comes to who helped keep the previous regime in power and do not want that same U.S. intervention in the new political era.

Another point of this release is worth noting:

(One aspect of the project will focus on) helping to increase women’s participation in policy making as well as reaching out to other underrepresented groups and potential change-makers.

Improving the standing of women is certainly a noble cause and worth commending.  Helping underrepresented groups…well that depends.  We’ve done that in the past in the interest of working with the group most likely to play ball with the U.S. regardless of how ferocious they might be.  Take Saddam Hussein.  His relationship with the U.S. prior to the Gulf War is no secret at this point and he was a minority in his country.  Obviously, he was not underrepresented once he was in power but this is about who we support when they are minorities in their homelands.  As a Sunni Muslim, Hussein was a part of roughly one-third of the Iraqi population while Shia Muslims make up most of the remaining majority.  We supported a minority group in Iraq and many people paid dearly for that, ourselves included in the end.  Let’s hope for better judgement on who we support in that respect.

One last irony in this statement is the State Department’s concern for making sure the governments in these countries are open and their actions are transparent to their people.  Really?!  So I guess the U.S. government really had no problem with those Wikileaks releases over the past few years because they are all for openness and transparency in governing.

Correction.  They are for ‘openness and transparency’ by the U.S. government’s definition and not by the actual definition of those words.