I am very unsure re your young politicians thing. How do you mean to foster them?
I think any active backing form the US might well be the kiss of death...I wonder if the EU would have the same reaction?
(Oh - you already say that - the Eastern Europe analogy was interesting...)
Yup. The EU has gone through such lengths in supporting civil society in Eastern Europe - outright subsidising it in fact - a lot in terms of facilitating. All the foreign bureaus of Western parties have, too - the SPD's Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, for example. Its not about putting money into the bank account of your favourite party - that wont work - but more indirect means. For random example, organising meetings or conferences where different democratic groups or democratic groups from different countries are brought together. They learn a lot from each other's strategies, and start working together more - essential, because the splintered and dilettantist politics that usually characterise the situation directly after system changeovers provide autocrats with an excellent way to get or retain a grip on power (divide et impera). The most exciting element here I think is the crossnational 'borrowing' of techniques - Georgian opposition youth activists going to Belgrade to learn how Otpor got Milosevic out there, for example, or the same Otpor people going to Kiev to train the Ukrainian democrats.
Some of it takes place as you know, "trainings for young leaders", where "young community talents" get to pick up practical skills on PR, lobbying, knowledge of (the use of) international law and institutions, whatever - it looks like (and actually is
, of course) simply education - and who can be against the EU sponsoring an education project? But the net effect is also of course stronger, more empowered, democratic groups. Hey, look at what Dag went to do in India, where from what I understood young leaders from Nagaland are brought together and get to acquire new practical skills - its also a great way to make empowered politicians out of what otherwise might become insurgent rebel leaders - and thus eventually helps in pacibly resolving conflicts too.
In Eastern Europe, there's the EU, the Council of Europe, the OCSE and of course the Soros Foundations funding any length of trainings for NGO activists: minority groups, womens groups, whatever - and I dare say it worked. Of course there's been set-backs, but overall the process from communist implosion to EU accession has been quite smooth, and the worst populists have mostly been worked out, with the second wave of that now taking place in the Former Soviet Union.
The trick is not to simply overbearingly come out in public for a specific party and literally funding it; but to just kinda help any democratic-minded group along, help them professionalise and coordinate better, through facilitating these indirect support mechanisms. That way you avoid most of the backlash on "meddling in our affairs", and the parties you sympathise with dont as easily get called EU stooges or something - its much more under the radar. It comes in under the heading of aid and assistance after all, which is reinforced by the support the governments themselves also get from the EU during the accession process - whenever they met one of its requirements. I think the EU has been a lot better at that kind of thing - the carrots and sticks of "soft power" - than the US, in this respect. You still get some backlash of course - Soros sure got his share, he's virulently hated by all the communists and nationalists - but you gotta admit the results have been impressive.
The reaction to regression - hmmm - the torture stuff might not play well from the US - given the outsourcing of torture to Arab allies - and Abu Ghraib etc.
Well, thats where I would be disagreeing with the US line, yes, and making a point on that.
The FA article is suggesting these policies - though clearly not consistently applied - may not be so useful - that the carrot approach may be better - from the west in general...
I think it's the carrot-only strategy that's failed in the Middle East the last decades. In a way I gotta agree with Lash etc. here. It was the all too visible sudden apperance of the stick onto the scene, in the guise of the Iraq war, that seems to have really hit the point home with some of the other states. Whereas before they seemed to be betting that this whole human rights stuff would last their time, as long as they kept the troublesome elements in their country under control for the US and cash in the carrots they got for that. More aggressiveness was definitely called for by now. The only problem now still is that its applied so inconsistently - the Uzbeks get away with what the Syrians are blasted for. That still creates the wrong impression: namely, that you can get away with totalitarinism as long as you make sure not to get on the wrong side of the US in strategical matters. That impression still seriously hampers democratisation, imho.