Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Is The West Really The One Responsible For All These Middle East Despots?

Victor David Hanson writes that come summer, we will finally be able to make sense of what we are seeing now in the Middle East:
By summertime, we will begin to see a new clarity in the Middle East. The old narratives — that American support for authoritarians undermined democratic awakenings; that Iraq was a catastrophe; that we need to reach out to totalitarian regimes like Iran, Libya, and Syria to ensure peace; that Israel continues to impede the future of the region — will, with the new unrest, be proven valid or invalid in a way impossible to imagine just a few weeks ago.

...In some quarters, it will be said of these protests that this was the Arabs’ moment to take destiny into their own hands and prove that both right-wing authoritarians and Islamist and statist totalitarians were aberrations, artifacts of Cold War rivalries, imposed by sinister foreign forces or resulting from uncharacteristic religious zealotry and intolerance in reaction to understandable provocations. That may be, or it may be that these awful governments — from Baathism to theocracy to seventh-century monarchy to lunatic Gaddafism to military dictatorship — were all pretty much reflective, in varying degrees depending on local histories, of the values and customs of the masses.[emphasis added]
Of course, that is not the narrative that the media is pushing now, but then again they are probably comparing the fall of these regimes with the fall of Communism--where there were underlying 20th century Western ideals, not 7th century Islam.

(or didn't you hear that Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi issued a fatwa on live television, urging the Libyan army to kill Gadhafi)*

If indeed the current Middle East regimes are a reflection of the Muslim masses, will the alleged introduction of democracy make a bit of difference in these countries?

If Hanson is right, it really might not make one iota of difference.

As Rabbi Avi Shafran writes in Pundits on Pluto:
[D]emocracy, for all its wonderful potential, is not a guarantee of anything other than the concretization of a populace’s will.
--which makes Libya, without any other leadership, especially dangerous.

* And come to think of it, how many Western rulers have 50 different spellings of their name?

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