Credit where due One


Credit where due! One of Andrew Sullivan’s correspondents is impressed with Tunisia, leaving “with a strong sense that this is a country headed in the right direction, a place the US should be actively supporting as an emerging model in the region.” He further notes, “Fortunately, it looks like we may be doing just that, thanks to Rumsfeld no less.” Sullivan remarks, “Credit where it’s due.”

But how much credit is due? According to the State Department, “Zine El‑Abidine Ben Ali has been the president since 1987. In the October 2004 presidential and legislative elections, President Ben Ali ran against three opposition candidates and won approximately 94 percent of the popular vote.” Must be a popular guy! What’s more:

The government’s human rights record remained poor, and the government persisted in committing serious abuses. However, the government continued to demonstrate respect for the religious freedom of minorities, as well as the human rights of women and children. The following human rights problems were reported:

  • torture and abuse of prisoners and detainees
  • arbitrary arrest and detention
  • police impunity
  • lengthy pretrial and incommunicado detention
  • infringement of citizens’ privacy rights
  • restrictions on freedom of speech and press
  • restrictions of freedom of assembly and association

You can read more here from Human Rights Watch. Tunisia’s certainly a model for something, and in light of the country’s long history with torture and arbitrary detention you can certainly see why Rumsfeld is a Ben Ali fan. Me, not so much. France has historically been the Tunisian regime’s main backer in the West, though, so one might think American hawks would dislike it purely out of spite.