A Tale of Three Cities

Despite the obvious obstacles, the signs of democracy are encouraging in Kabul, Beirut and Cairo.

Issue: Fall 2005

The world watches as President Bush relentlessly promotes democracy in the turbulent Middle East and Central Asia. Criticisms vary: Democracy is a confection of the West; Islam is in fundamental conflict with democracy; and most repugnant (and semi-racist), Arabs are unprepared for democracy. But in a journey to three Arab and Central Asia capitals, I found democracy developing at a dramatic pace. In Kabul, Beirut and Cairo, leaders and masses alike earnestly seek something better. The real regional debate, Arab and non-Arab, urban and rural, is not whether democracy but what form of democracy.

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