26 december 2005

A good year for freedom (The Flemish Beerdrinker)

Good news from Freedom House. Last year was a good year for freedom. And it was a good year especially in the muslim world. Here is a report:

Eight countries plus the Palestinian Authority, not yet officially a country, moved up — either from "not free" to "partly free" or from "partly free" to "free." Four countries moved down. In all, this made it a good year for freedom.

But here’s the really interesting part. Of the nine countries that improved their ratings, no fewer than six are Muslim countries. Indonesia moved from "partly free" to "free," while Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Mauritania and the Palestinian Authority moved from "not free" to "partly free." Of the four countries that became less free in 2005, none was a Muslim country.

To anyone who has followed the Freedom House data year to year, these changes are remarkable. Since the fall of Portugal’s military dictatorship in 1974, a tide of freedom and democracy has washed over the globe. Every region has recorded strong gains, including even such a poor and troubled area as sub-Saharan Africa and the socially mutilated lands of the former Soviet empire. But until this year, the Muslim world had remained a stubborn exception.

How much of the credit for this goes to the policies of G.W. Bush? I honostly don’t know. But the fact that it’s happening for the first time now, and only now, during the reign of Bush and after the war in Iraq should provide some clues.

Twenty years ago two big parts of the world were stuck in stone with an antidemocratic system. It was under right-wing Republican presidents Reagan and Bush that the communist system crushed and burned. They presided over the first big democratic wave. And now it seems that a second big wave is coming up. And again it’s happening under a right-wing Republican idiot, er, president.

Why is it that freedom seems to have such good years under right-wing presidents? Food for thought for our left-wing friends.

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