Is the Arab Middle East ready for democracy? We know how the past two American presidents have answered this.
The revised stated purpose behind President George W. Bush’s invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq was to build a new world order by forcing democracy on populations to whom it was truly alien. The original stated purpose for invading Afghanistan was to destroy the folks who provided shelter to the 9/11 attackers, and the original stated purpose for invading Iraq was to rid it of a government that possessed and might use weapons of mass destruction.
But when we learned that the real support for the 9/11 attacks came from folks protected by our so-called friends in Saudi Arabia, and when we learned that the only weapons of mass destruction possessed by Iraq were the ones the U.S. sold to Saddam Hussein in the mid-1980s, which he no longer possessed, the Bush administration changed the rhetoric but not the violence or its cost.
Since the termination of those wars came about after the installation of puppet regimes in both countries, and since those regimes now claim legitimacy because they were elected by the people permitted to vote there, we have been reminded that democracy is more than the result of a majority vote. It is respect for the rule of law and recognition of the inalienable rights of the individual. It is not torture, extra-judicial killings, or government-sanctioned rape and legal suppression of women and girls; it is not racial and religious and ethnic hatred and persecution; and it is not the rule of mobs in the streets.
When Egypt was in turmoil a year ago, President Obama nudged Hosni Mubarak from office. He was the longtime American puppet and Egyptian strongman who called himself president but was never really elected. His downfall was followed by a short-lived military dictatorship, and that was followed by the popular election of Islamic radicals to the government. They hate the West, the U.S. and Israel.
Is it any wonder that our embassy in Cairo has been attacked and our folks who work and live there are threatened every day? Should the president alone be able to help depose a foreign leader without the consensus of the American people or their elected representatives in Congress? Did the president’s miscalculations take into account that it might be better to leave in place the devil you know instead of inviting the devil you don’t know to replace him? Did he consider that the leader of Egypt is for the Egyptians – and not the American government – to decide?