The International Herald Tribune has reopened the debate about the role of advertisement in the implementation of the “Great Middle East” policy objectives. The daily has called upon two specialists to speak. President and General Director of the Publicis Group - the world’s second mass media group - Maurice Lévy is an active member in favor of the advertising campaign that he developed for the Peres Center For Peace and the Palestinian Economic Forum, with 80 professionals from the region and the support of the Paris’ City Hall "for peace". Lévy presented his initiative at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, of which he is one of the seven co-presidents, in the presence of Mrs. Bush. He asserted that this campaign could create the popular basis on which the peace of tomorrow could be built. However, we can be amazed at the Publicis commitment over this issue. In fact, isn’t this the same advertising group to which the Sharon’s government asked to organize the media campaigns in favor of the annexation Wall in the West Bank, and which has been entrusted by the Bush administration with handling the image of the U.S. troops? Besides that, the hypothesis is weird. It is not difficult to sell peace to the peoples of Israel and Palestine. Problems arise out of the conditions of this peace, leaving aside the fact that T.V. slots revolve around the English slogan “We hope someday you will join us”, as though it indeed wanted to persuade the nations to accept the Pax Americana.
Publicist John M. McNeel, on his side, considers that the media campaigns in the Arab world lead to nowhere. It’d be best to insert the Arab elites in the U.S. system. The author is a member of the Business for Diplomatic Action - a group of companies aiming at improving the image of the United States in the world in order to promote and back this country’s trademarks and sales. Having made sure that the United States is seen as a hypocritical nation, he considers that supplementary advertisements contribute nothing. Recalling the media principles of the
two-step flow”, of Lazarsfeld, he states that it is better to convince the Arab elites to become the missionaries of the U.S. word before the masses.
Though they reach different conclusions, the starting point of these two authors is the same: The Arabs might accept any policy as long as it is well sold to them.
So far, in order to persuade the Arabs, the Bush administration has adopted the vocabulary of revolutionary democrats. That way, its popularity has come to a stop (how could it be in the face of its crimes?), but has helped to decry those who were sincerely active for a democratization of the Arab world. A group of Arab intellectuals shows its indignation in the Al Ahram at the semantic deviation of the words “democracy” and “resistance”. Today, the former is used to justify an imperial policy and the latter to glorify the preservation in power of local magnates, who ratify their faith in a real liberalism, inspired by the West experience, but which rejects the superficiality of the United States, a country which does not symbolize anymore the model it claims for.

The Arabs are not the only ones to doubt Washington’s democratization policy. Bush administration followers fear that this rhetoric might place the United States in a blind alley and force it to accept hostile regimes. In the Daily Star, American Enterprise Institute researcher Michael Rubin stated that the Bush administration must stop all kinds of aid to Islamist movements in the “Great Middle East” and support only, in the elections, favorable parties. As a good believer in the “clash of civilizations”, he superficially mingled in his analysis Muslim anti-imperialist groups with Islamist movements that are loyal to Washington.
In the Wall Street Journal, neo-conservative thinker Francis Fukuyama challenged these arguments basing on the example of South-East Asia. Like in the case of the Philippines, South Korea and Indonesia, Washington needs to understand that formal democracies serve its purposes better than dictatorial regimes. The latter can be overthrown by the people’s discontent. It is true that the elected governments can adopt policies that may be contrary to the U.S. interests, but the control in the region is more solid since the Asian democratization took place in the late 1980’s.