Monday, October 31, 2005
WTO Impact on Saudi Oil Industry
I’m not certain it will happen over night. If Saudi Arabia is like all the other members of the WTO, it will bend the rules of the organization to the point of violation in the defense of its most cherished and essential industries. However, it should be interesting to find out what impact market forces and WTO membership will have on the opaque nature of the Saudi oil industry. Perhaps once those numbers are released the question about the future of oil supplies will be answered with greater authority and accountability than the official announcements of the monarchy.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Instruments of Democracy
I just read something a few minutes ago and it upset me a little bit. It also reemphasized a point about democracy I think escapes most debates about its power to transform societies. An editor in Afghanistan was arrested when articles assessed to be anti-Islam were publsihed in his magazine. Apparently the democratically elected government in Afghanistan approved a bill in March 2004 banning all news and media content insulting to Islam. The Primary Court in Kabul convicted the editor for violating the law, but luckily the editor has the right to appeal the conviction to the Second Court.
The presence of the freedom of press, transparent and accountable political leadership, separation of powers, freedom of speech, rule of law, political parties and other institutions of freedom are the truest measure of democacy's influence in a society. People tend to equate democracy with elections and then assume the story ends there. However, without the most essential elements and instituations of democracy the possibility of elections being manipulated and perversed in the hands of an oppressive leadership remains a significant threat.
Don't get me wrong elections are important. Ounce for ounce they are probably the most important aspect of a democracy because they represent the people's most direct voice in choosing how they will be governed and what sort of society they will represent. However, without those other important institutions elections could be a one time event in fledgling democracies. One time elections in new democracies usually lead to only one thing, dictatorships.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Annan Gets Report
If the report does point to high level Syrian involvement in this I wonder if we'll see protests in Beirut of a similar scale to the ones witnessed in the wake of Harari's assassination in February.