|On happenings in Egypt
||[Feb. 2nd, 2011|02:55 pm]
Alright, first political rant in a while. Bear with me if the language isn't up the par with some of my previous posts.
Alright, if you've been under a rock for the past couple of weeks, a revolution has started in the Islamic world. It started with the overthrow of the government in Tunisia. Things seem to be progressing well there, and I have high hopes. But their revolution was quickly eclipsed by uprisings in Egypt. The reason that Egypt gets more coverage than Tunisia, aside from the population and strategic importance, is that more people in the US know basically where Egypt is. Yeah, we're a special people aren't we?
Back on point, Egypt for the past...half century at least, has been ruled by strong willed presidents who have taken on the power of dictator. The most famous being Nassar, but most recently Mubarak. Dictators provide stability in a part of the world that doesn't know stability without a strong hand. The western idea of democracy and country is still a relatively new concept in the middle east. History has shown that the area goes to chaos quickly when a strong leader is removed, or a strong stabilizing government. Be it empire or monarchy or dictator, strong leaders have been the only way to provide stability.
The cost of this stability, however, is what are thought of in the western world as basic human rights. The idea of democracy is so entrenched in our way of thinking that it is hard for a westerner to see things through a different set of glasses. What we don't realize though, is that it has taken over 300 years for us to reach this state. Less than 100 years ago, most of the region was ruled by one of the European empires, before that various other empires. Egypt stands out as being relatively independent for a good chunk of that time. Left to their own string of dictators.
Am I saying that revolution is doomed to fail in Egypt? Far from it. I think of all the countries in the middle east that Egypt has the best chance of forming a stable democracy. It has a lot of western educated professionals, western influence is stronger than in most countries (even if it is mostly due to tourism), and it has a history that almost predates time itself. It has seen more changes than most other parts of the world could imagine.
However, revolution is always a dangerous proposition. Iran was an extremely westernized country prior to their revolution in the 1970's. Now it is one of the most isolated and feared and hated countries in the world. The strongest opposition to Mubarak is an Islamic radical group that would turn back the clock in Egypt and make it another Iran. Democracy is more than just mob rule, though mob rule is the easiest thing to achieve. They would more than likely set up a theocracy in the guise of democracy. Another set of dictators, but with seemingly popular backing.
How will things work out? I don't know. I personally would like to see a British style parliamentary system set up with an American style constitution in place. A set of checks and balances set up to ensure long term stability. But level heads need to prevail. Inciting a riot is easy, creating a proper government is much harder.
If you haven't figure out yet, yes, I do believe in a distinct right and wrong and that some cultures and governments are better than others. Relativism has it's place, but is highly overrated and used by western culture today.