Sen. John Kerry is working on a financial aid package to promote emerging democracies in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere in the Arab world. Here are three things to consider as he tries to line up lawmakers behind this idea.
File/Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Newscom
"Events this powerful demand a powerful response," said Sen. John Kerry at a hearing this week on America's foreign policy budget.
He's right about that. Even if the Arab awakening goes no further than North Africa (and, over the long run, it's likely to spread), the tilt toward democracy in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya deserves unequivocal, meaningful support from democratic nations. But what kind of support, and who should take the lead?
Mr. Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says he's consulting across party lines to come up with a financial aid package for Arab countries throwing off despotism. He has no numbers yet. He has in mind United States humanitarian assistance and expertise with democracy building – running elections, writing constitutions, that kind of thing. He also says the US should help breathe life into economies that can't absorb the Arab youth bulge.