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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

OH-08 GOP John Boehner: He Doesn't Know Israel Is A Middle East Democracy

Map Courtesy of FOX News
MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (TDB) -- The highest-ranking Republican in the U.S. House apparently doesn't understand that Israel -- the closest ally of the United States in the Middle East -- is a democracy. Either that, or the House GOP leader is so remarkably blind in his support for President Bush that he would stretch the truth and go out of his way to snub a friendly nation. Matt Hurley at the conservative Ohio blog Weapons of Mass Discussion has John Boehner's statement on the 5th anniversary of the Iraq War, which he reprints. Hurley doesn't note Boehner's slip into ignorance that praises the war as paving the way "for the first democracy in a part of the world that needs it most."

Ooops. Israel has been around since 1948, electing governments and prime ministers and parliamentarians who serve in the Knesset. It is a multi-party state. There is a segment of the world that does not consider Israel the first democracy in the Middle East, but they tend to be islamists, militants, or supporters of the Palestinian movement that someday hopes to drive the Jews in Israel into the sea. Boehner surely must not have meant to side with the islamists by slighting Israel's nearly 60 years as a democracy. Or did he distort the truth hoping to confuse Americans, who may not know the region's geography? Israel shares borders with Jordan, which is becoming a constitutional monarchy; Lebanon, which is struggling to regain some footing as a democracy; Egypt, which is a republic but has an authoritarian government, and Syria, which is considered a Baathist dictatorship. Turkey is in the region, too, and is considered a Middle Eastern a democracy. Tukey border Iraq, Boehner's "first democracy." And some of the Persian Gulf states are moving toward democracy.

The complete text of Boehner's statement on the war's 5th anniversary is here. His error about Israel appears in the first paragraph:

"In the five years that have passed since the start of this conflict, our men and women in uniform have heroically ousted a terrorist dictator, freed a nation, and planted the seeds for political reconciliation that will pave the way for the first democracy in a part of the world that needs it most. Today, after countless obstacles to our success over the past five years, Iraq's fledgling democracy is at long last taking important steps toward the ultimate goal of self-rule."


  1. Iran was democratically elected until the CIA overthrew Mossedegh in 1953 and insalled a brutal dictator called the Shah.

  2. I don't know much about Iran before the Shah and the CIA-supported coup. I know the Shah was put in power by the U.S. and supported for years until he abdicated and fled. I'm not quite clear about how the Iranian government works today --it is elected, in part, but those elections may not be free or fair. I guess elections don't equate with democracy.

    I am surprised that Boehner would say that Iraq is the first democracy "in that part of the world," which is an obvous euphemism for the Middle East. He is wrong. And it makes one wonder: What else is he wrong about? The surprise is that Israel has great support here among both Rs and Ds. Why would he attempt to minimize its position as a democracy in that part of the world?

  3. Bill - your post hinges entirely on your assertion that "in that part of the world" is "an obvious euphemism for the Middle East." Not your strongest argument ever. By your own admission, Boehner didn't say "Middle East," meaning there's no "there" there -- or at least nothing more than a cheap shot. Maybe he meant "the Muslim world?" Maybe he meant the countries to the east of Israel? Whatever it is, your suggestion that he is minimizing Israel's position as a democracy borders on farce.

  4. "it is elected, in part, but those elections may not be free or fair. I guess elections don't equate with democracy."

    What about Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004? Do we have free and fair elections?

    I don't think so and if elections don't equate democracy, what does?

  5. Anon 12:26 --

    Muslim world? He was talking about the Muslim world? That is much larger than the Middle East, and takes in far more territory as you most certainly know. It stretches from North Africa (Morocco on the Atlantic coast of Africa comes to mind) and includes several nations to the west of Israel. To the east, the Muslim world stretches all the way to Pakistan and beyond to include Indonesia, which is nowhwere near the Middle East. Indeed, I believe the nation with the world's largest Muslim population is India, which is a democracy. There are also Muslim nations -- Kosovo and Bosnia -- in Europe, and others are also in the old Soviet bloc.

    And "that part of the world" means exactly what? Iraq is in what part of the world? It is in the same part of the world as Israel, the Middle East. I can defend my view that Rep. Boehner excluded Israel from the list of democracies. If he had some other definition of "that part of the world" in mind he should have enunciated it precisely. There are democracies in the Muslim world. There are democracies in the Middle East. He did not mention them when he said Iraq was the first democracy in that part of the world.

  6. Oh, Bill! Just stop now before you make Boehner cry.