See complete story at: http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/07/03/opinion/edmcfaul.php
The U.S. and Egypt: Giving up on the 'liberty doctrine'
Amr Hamzawy and Michael McFaul International Herald Tribune
Published: July 3, 2006
WASHINGTON Has President George W. Bush given up on his liberty doctrine? From Libya to Iran to Azerbaijan, the Bush administration appears to have downgraded the importance of democracy promotion in the last several months. Nowhere, however, has a new indifference to democracy been more striking than in Egypt.
The apparent reversal on Egypt is so profound and surprising because it may be the one country in the world where the Bush administration was the boldest in pressuring an autocratic regime to change its ways.
In January 2005, Bush devoted nearly his entire second inaugural address to his liberty doctrine. He boldly and rightly declared that "the survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for freedom in our world is the expansion of freedom in all of the world." Egypt soon became a test case for these prosaic words, and initially Bush and his administration seemed serious.
A month into her new job as secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice canceled a trip to Cairo in protest at the jailing of Ayman Nour, head of the liberal opposition party, Al Ghad, on trumped-up charges. Rice was practicing what she had recently dubbed "transformational diplomacy" - leveraging state-to-state relations to push for democratic change.
Having provided Egypt with roughly $2 billion annually in aid for more than 30 years, the United States could wield leverage. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt seemed to respond. He amended Article 76 of the Constitution to open the door for Egypt's first multicandidate presidential election, accepted an expanded margin of freedom in the press and partially eased his government's intimidation of opposition forces.
A trajectory toward greater political pluralism seemed to be gaining momentum. Bush's liberty doctrine seemed to be producing results.
In fact, however, Mubarak did the minimum to appease Washington while his regime was under greatest scrutiny during presidential and parliamentary elections. Once these elections were over, Mubarak rolled back his incremental reforms. Over the last six months, he has extended the emergency law until 2008 and postponed municipal elections, originally scheduled to take place this year. His government stepped up its intimidation of opposition politicians and of judges rallying for greater independence of the judiciary.
The Bush response? Hardly noticeable. Apart from freezing negotiations for a free-trade agreement, the administration has kept a low profile on Egypt's disturbing political developments. Most strikingly, without any objection from the Bush administration, Congress recently approved yet again a multibillion- dollar economic and military aid package for Egypt, without asking anything in return from the Mubarak regime regarding political reform.