"We stand for universal values, including freedom of association, assembly, and speech."
Speaking at the Forum for the Future in Doha, Qatar last month, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton observed that people she had spoken with during her Middle-Eastern trips "are . . . . profoundly concerned about the trends in many parts of the broader Middle East, and what the future holds. . . . ."
They are concerned about opportunities to make a better life for themselves and their families, with a government that listens and responds to the needs and legitimate grievances of its people. "Young people . . . . are demanding reform to make their governments more effective, more responsive, and more open," she said.
In a later speech, at the Munich Security Conference in early February, Secretary of State Clinton stated that "the challenge is to help our partners take systematic steps to usher in a better future where people’s voices are heard, their rights respected, and their aspirations met." These steps must proceed peacefully, without coersion or violence.
Change must come, said Deputy Secretary James Steinberg before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee. But "absent freedom and democratic progress, the public support needed to sustain progress on common goals cannot be achieved."
"Change will emerge differently in response to different circumstances across the region, but our policies and our partnerships are guided by a few consistent principles. We stand for universal values, including freedom of association, assembly, and speech. We oppose violence as a tool for political coercion. And we have spoken out on the need for meaningful change in response to the demands of the people."