Liz Cheney on Foreign Policy
In Egypt, the presidential elections--as imperfect as they were, the spell is broken. And I think that that encapsulates a lot of what you're seeing across the region. The curtain of fear is lifting. It is a process that will be difficult. It's a process that may take a long time. But in many ways, once people begin to have a voice and once people recognize that they can demand that voice, it becomes much harder for governments who want to silence them to use the traditional tools to do that. And when they know that the world is watching, it holds those governments to account in a way that they may not have been held to account before.
A: I would just say that the Muslim Brotherhood is banned in Egypt, as you know, and I think it's very important, both with the Muslim Brotherhood and with other Islamist groups to ask the question of whether they would protect the rights of others if they were elected. And in many countries today it is the Islamist groups who are most well organized as opposition groups and that reflects a problem for the people in those countries. It reflects the fact that they don't have a full choice. I don't believe that if people had a truly free and fair and open system, they would choose extremists. I don't think people in the Middle East would choose to be ruled by extremists. I don't think people anywhere would choose that.
It's important to look at Islamists as we would other political parties. There are some standard red lines that the international community applies to political groups. Groups that use violence or advocate the use of violence clearly put themselves outside democratic political processes, whether they're Islamist or not.
Regarding non-violent Islamist groups, it's important to look at their platforms and what they would be likely to do once elected. You can't lump all Islamist groups together. Would they respect the rights of others, including women, minorities, and non-Muslims? I don't see it as Islamist versus secular parties, but rather of applying standard guidelines and rules about securing a democracy and making sure that violence isn't part of the political process.
A: For a long time in many countries, the only two voices that have been heard have been the government or extremist groups. I am confident that the vast majority of people in the Arab world, as everywhere, are not extremists. What's important is to open up these systems so that other voices can be heard and people have a real choice to make. People need to have access to media and an ability to campaign and get their messages out. It's very difficult to judge the true strength of these groups in the current environment.
A: It's very possible and very important to do. The most effective time to address issues such as corruption and transparency, for example, is while the institutions of a state are being developed. Polls show that Palestinians want a judicial system that will set the rules of the game and protect the participants. We've seen ministers dedicated to doing that. The President has said that the Palestinian people need to be represented by a government that serves them well and lives up to the standards they deserve. Obviously reform has to include security issues as well to guarantee the safety of the state of Israel. You cannot talk about the establishment of a Palestinian state, or two states living side by side in peace and security, without the necessary reforms.
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