19 December 2005

America is hindering Middle Eastern democracy

The brilliant Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk—who I expect will win a Nobel prize someday, for reasons both artistic and political—is about to go on trial for having had the temerity to publicly discuss the Armenian genocide and the slaughter of Kurds. Pamuk is both a proud Turk and committed to democracy and free speech, so it should be especially worrying to the US that he is saying this:
As tomorrow’s novelists prepare to narrate the private lives of the new élites, they are no doubt expecting the West to criticize the limits that their states place on freedom of expression. But these days the lies about the war in Iraq and the reports of secret C.I.A. prisons have so damaged the West’s credibility in Turkey and in other nations that it is more and more difficult for people like me to make the case for true Western democracy in my part of the world.
The conduct of the Bush administration is besmirching the good name of democracy. As advancing democracy is in America's best interests, this means that this administration is hurting America.

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