Friday, October 16, 2009

"Change" we can believe in!

While the establishment praise and accolades continue to accumulate for President Obama for his noble words, is anyone paying attention to what he's actually doing?

Devex is. From its 15 October 2009 "Global Development Briefing:"

"Global Development Briefing -- Pyramid Scheme

'We are very disgruntled with President Obama. He has given the regime the green light to do what it wants with the Egyptian people.'

-- Kamal al-Fayoumi, a labor leader who was jailed by the Egyptian government for launching a major strike last year, in an interview with the Washington Post. Four months after the US president delivered an address from Cairo in which he voiced American commitment to human rights and the rule of law, concern is mounting among Egypt's pro-reform activists that the US is abandoning its long-standing efforts to bring democratic reforms to the Arab world's most populous nation. "His reduced talk of democracy is giving these non-democratic regimes the security that they won't face pressure. And that's having a negative impact on democracy in the Arab world," said Ayman Nour, a prominent opposition politician. According to the daily, US pressure for democratic reforms in Egypt, once effective, waned in the final years of the Bush administration. But critics charge that the pressure has significantly eased at ahead of the presidential election is set for 2011, the Post says. Speculation is rife that incumbent Hosni Mubarak, 81, will anoint son Gamal as his successor before the election, raising fears that the regime will undemocratically extend its 28-year-old rule. The clearest indication yet of the US shift is the funding cuts, activists say. Last year, the United States allocated USD 54.8 million for democracy programs, of which USD 27.85 million went to civil society programs, the nexus of grass-roots activism for democracy. This year, the funding has shrunk to USD 20 million, of which USD 5 million went to civil society groups. Obama has met with Mubarak three times, reestablishing Egypt's position as a key strategic ally in the Arab world. This marks a significant departure from the Bush administration, during which tensions between Washington and Cairo raged over US policies in the Middle East, the 2003 invasion of Iraq and American criticism of Egypt's political and human rights record."

How about that? Obama is actually measurably worse for freedom and democracy than George W. Bush was...and actually seems to be on the side of a dictator.

How long before his flacks in the media, Norwegian Parliament, and elsewhere wise up? I wouldn't count on it ever happening.

At least now we can see why the Saudis were so quick to give Obama their highest honor, and why Hugo Chavez seems to like him.


(Note: you can subscribe to the weekly "Global Development Briefing" at no charge by going to Devex. Highly recommended!

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