Sunday, January 02, 2005

Freedom House releases its 2005 report

You can look at the basic table here.

Overall, I'd say it's encouraging, like most Freedom House reports since the 90s. Afghanistan continues to make progress. Ukraine of course, also has improved. About a dozen other nations improved their ratings, mostly in Eastern Europe and the Asian Tigers. Egypt and Jordan also improved, which could be interpreted to show that Bush's desire to achieve democracy in the Arab world is making slow but steady progress.

Now the bad news: Most glaringly, Iraq has shown no improvement since 2003. Iraq became freer by two points with Saddam's fall, but showed no further progress during 2004. Let's hope the elections do for Iraq what they did for Afghanistan. Africa took a few steps back again. Haiti got worse.

The most galling part of the survey is the 7,7 nations, the most oppressive of the oppressive. Some are obvious enemies of ours, and with a human rights record like that, with good reason. But Saudi Arabia, a longtime ally, has also consistently been at 7,7. I realize that we are dependent on them, but I hate the idea of selling my soul for oil. That's why I don't. I don't drive. My total oil usage, if everyone lived the way I do, would be covered entirely by domestic production. I really wish everyone would make an effort to reduce their oil usage. It may be comforting to blame the government for coddling Arab dictators like the Saudis, but they are only looking out for our interests and desires. And we the people want cheap oil and raise holy hell if gas gets above $2 a gallon.