Can America accept a true democracy in the Mideast?
“If a small group of people in every Arab country went out and persevered as we did, then that would be the end of all the regimes,” he said, joking that the next Arab summit might be “a coming-out party” for all the ascendant youth leaders.
from February 14th New York Times article “Dual Uprisings Show Potent New Threats to Arab States” by David D. Kirkpatrick and David E. Sanger
In the absence of a Communist threat or the purported proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, the advent of pro-democratic youth groups who have been mobilized in huge numbers through the utilization of social networking and a religious-type zeal, presents a problem for the Western world and America, which finds itself at the crossroads of Mideast foreign policy.
Drawing comparisons between the democratically elected government of Iran in 1952, in which the charismatic leader Mohammed Mossadegh was overthrown by the US under the auspices of a Communist threat but was, in reality, driven by his move to nationalize Iranian oil interests, America is once again going to be faced with the threat of a true democracy.
The threat of true democracy?
Let’s be honest, in the truest sense of the word, democracy is above all a right to self determination for a nation and its people. Back in 1952, Mossadegh sought to nationalize Iranian oil interests for as much moral as well as economic reasons based on the premise that “no country could be politically independent and free unless it first achieved economic independence.” This was something that the British and in particular the company that would eventually become British Petroleum could not, and would not allow.
At the prompting of then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the US put into play Operation Ajax becoming the ouster of the Mossadegh government and opening the door to the autocratic rule of the Shah of Iran and his terror police squad SAVAK.
Being 1952, a time when the people generally trusted their government, and fanned by the flames of a purported communist threat few actually recognized the reality of the situation. Specifically, that US policy in the Mideast was dependent and built around the support of despot tyrants whom they could placate and control through the showering of Western wealth and the illusion of societal progress.
This is a formula that has been followed for a long time as demonstrated by the US support of corrupt leadership such as Saddam Hussein in Iraq, the Taliban in their war with Russia, and closer to home Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega. In short, it is far easier to control an oppressive regime than a democratic nation in which the people will put the best interests of their dominion over those associated with foreign interests.
Now some may at this point rave that what is written above is nothing more than anti-American rhetoric but I can assure you that it isn’t. I for one believe that America is the greatest country on earth, due in large part to the fact that I have the freedom to express my opinions without fear of reprisals or finding myself rotting in a dank jail, the victim of torture.
However, these are very hard and honest questions that require equally hard and honest answers. Especially given the fact that there are no longer situational conveniences such as a Communist threat, where under the umbrella of a Red scare, the true motives for American foreign policy can be obfuscated from public scrutiny.
For example, America supported a “government” in Egypt that was known to violate civil rights all for the sake of maintaining stability in the region. In other words, democracy is good enough for Americans, but not good enough for the citizens of Egypt if said freedoms mean that the circumstances in which it thrives becomes unpredictable or conversely cannot be contained.
Of course, while the circumstances that distracted us in the 50s and 60s no longer exist, there are real threats to the tender shoots of an emerging democracy in Egypt. Particularly if the ultimate intent of the democratic youth movement is the end of all regimes. I do not imagine that the championing of expanded civil rights and freedoms is one that will be taken lightly by the current Iranian leadership.
In a somewhat ironic twist, and taking into account Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear capability that would indeed pose a threat to the rest of the world, the prospects of an overflow of a revolution by the democratically inclined youths of Arab neighbors is likely to be met with a violent, self-preserving response. This in and of itself might provide enough justifiable leverage for the Obama Administration to diplomatically squash the pro-democracy movement in favor of a stabilized military dictatorship that will be kept in place for the benefit of peace.
It is indeed a vicious cycle this lesser of two evils foreign policy, where an entire nation’s people is held in bondage for the purported sake of the global community. Unfortunately and unlike Iran in 1952, Iran in 2011 does present a very real danger from the standpoint of becoming the launching point for a third world war.
All of this of course leads to one very big “what if” question . . . what if the U.S. Government hadn’t facilitated the overthrow of the Mossadegh democracy back in 1952? One might reasonably presume that we would not be confronted with a potentially explosive situation in that a democratic Iran would today be a country of the people, by the people and for the people. In essence an advocate for versus an oppressor of truth, justice and liberty.
I guess the sins of the father are indeed visited on the son.
Remember to tune in to the 49th Parallel Forum on Wednesday, February 16th as we tackle this controversial topic head-on on the Blog Talk Radio Network.