Monday, February 7, 2011

The Truth About Western Support for Democracy

The mess in Egypt has revealed the cynical commitment to "democracy" that all Western governments have. Here is a bit from an op-ed in the Toronto Star by Linda McQuaig that spells it out for those who can't see the obvious:
The fact that the Arab world is awash with dictators has long been a key piece of evidence used to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment in the West.

Surely all those dictators are proof that Arabs don’t love democracy the way we Westerners do, that they are culturally, religiously and perhaps congenitally attracted to tyrannical strongmen as leaders.

This widely held view will be difficult to sustain here now that wall-to-wall TV coverage of the Egyptian (and Tunisian) uprisings has exposed the truth: Arabs don’t like tyrants any more than we do.

In fact, they love democracy — so much so that hundreds of thousands of them have risked serious harm by taking to the streets to defy a regime that for decades has been a leading practitioner of repression and torture of dissidents.

Another truth has also inadvertently slipped out of the bag: while hated by their own people, Arab dictators have managed to hold onto power because of our support — that is, the support of Western governments, particularly the United States, which provides $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt.

It turns out that some of the most horrific Middle Eastern despots — notably those in Egypt and Saudi Arabia — are there because the West has propped them up, over the fierce opposition and suffering of their own people. If we want to pinpoint responsibility for the lack of democracy in the Middle East, we might stop trying to find defects in the Arab soul and start looking in the mirror.
There's more in the original, go read the whole article.

McQuaig points out that the right wing government of Harper is more committed to its "friend" in Israel than it is to democracy. That is tragic. The governments of Israel will change and so will its policies. But democracy will remain democracy. You are far better off supporting democracy than supporting some faction or transitory government.

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