The great and the good are descending on the Czech capital Prague today for a conference at which President Bush is tomorrow expected to revive his pro-democracy agenda.
As Jeff Jacoby, writing in the Boston Globe, says :
When President Bush addresses the Conference on Democracy and Security in Prague Tuesday, his audience will comprise some of the world’s most indomitable champions of democracy and freedom.
Several of them the president already knows, including Natan Sharansky, the renowned former Soviet refusenik; Vaclav Havel, the one time political prisoner and former Czech president; and Chol Hwan Kang, author of “The Aquariums of Pyongyang,” a memoir of his years in the North Korean gulag. Many of the others, who will be coming from Egypt, Russia, Syria, Belarus, Iraq, the Palestinian Authority, Kosovo, and Iran, Bush will be meeting for the first time.
“I am very excited,” said Sharansky, who I found myself speaking to on the plane from Tel Aviv to Prague last night. “It is an opportunity to strengthen the whole free world against tyranny.”
Indeed this unique gathering brings together not only pro-democracy activists from throughout the Arab world, but those still fighting for freedom in the former Soviet Union, such as Vladimir Putin’s nemesis, the former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, who was recently manhandled by Putin’s security forces at a pro-democracy rally in Moscow. Campaigners from other countries which are not exactly free, including China, Cuba, and Belarus, will also attend.
Journalists from the conservative media (Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Johnson of the New York Sun, the National Review’s own John O’Sullivan, among many others) are already in Prague to cover this conference. But so far, I see no sign of the New York Times, CNN or the BBC. One wonders whether their antipathy to Bush is just too great for them to cover such an important pro-democracy event?