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One of Bush's heavy legacies

by Abdel Rahman Abu Arafeh

Bush will soon be gone and this is good, no doubt that the world will be a better place. This is what most of the worlds population including the people of the United States agree upon. However, this is not the issue, as the policies partaken during his 8-year long legacy, if not changed, will continue to govern the world from his Crawford ranch in Texas.

While this article is not intended to address the full legacy and policy remains of the Bush administration, it will focus on the most enduring impacts that are particular to the Palestinian situation. These policies caused a major setback to the work of the Palestinian civil society hindering the ability of many civil society organizations to make a positive impact on the democratisation process.

The main concern is related to the "Terrorist Certification", which has become a precondition to all Palestinian aid from the American Agency for International Development (USAID). Due to the American hegemony, this precondition has extended its scope and influence under the Bush administration as some other international donors impose the same pointless precondition.

The precondition requiring civil society institutions to sign the "Terrorist Certification" has caused the majority of Palestinian civil society institutions to walk away from the American aid, therefore terminating whole USAID projects. To make things worse, the precondition required that aid recipients clearly identify the beneficiaries of their programs, even when these programs are aimed at the development needs of the general public. After a long history of positive contributions to the democratic process, the Palestinian civil society institutions have felt insulted by these preconditions, which if implemented would turn these institutions into intelligence agents that discriminate between the who and who should not receive education, training, or reading.

While everyone is waiting impatiently for Bush‘s term to end, people should realize that if his policies are not overturned, not much change will be made. Bush will go, but his legacy will remain. In the case of this "Terrorist Certification", it is vital to retain control to the Palestinian institutions in exercising their oversight and development role in the democratization process and human rights. It is also essential for the USAID to revert to their role in supporting the democratization process in Palestine and throughout the world.

The American Congress is to reconsider these authoritative preconditions and terminate all policies partaken by the descending administration that have not only hinder the democratic process, but also discredit and paralyze the US role in advancing the democratic principles.

It is time for the United States to get back to its values, principles, and role of strengthening the democratic values after ignoring them for eight consecutive years.

Source: Al Quds, July 5, 2008

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