In the initial euphoric months of the Arab Spring, a seemingly unstoppable tide swept away corrupt, repressive regimes as people throughout the Arab world suddenly lost their “fear of government.” The Western media passionately assumed the role of cheerleaders of this regional upheaval.
But the longer-term outcomes of the revolutions in countries like Egypt, Libya and especially the sectarian bloodbath in Syria have proven to be horrific. The initial hopes around the region for immediate and miraculous change have been totally shattered.
Thankfully, there is recourse for this falsely advertised parallel to the Revolutions of 1989.
Any complaints should be mailed in a timely manner to Arab nationalism’s Ground Zero: the British prime minister’s official residence at 10 Downing Street.
It’s an interesting historical paradox: a gratuitously pro-Arab British foreign policy across the Middle East has turned out to be far more harmful to Arabs than Jews living in the region.
Many moons ago, (about the time oil was discovered underneath Saudi Arabia’s King Abdulaziz’s feet by American geologists working for Standard Oil of California) British diplomats speaking the Queen’s English of civility and self-determination effectively invented modern Arab nationalism as a ruse to justify a remapping of the region’s borders and a reallocation of its natural resources. Out of these shifting sands were such nations as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan engineered.
Tragically, Arab nationhood as conceived in London was never intended to be an exercise in democratic self-rule. Rather, these freshly minted entities were to be governed by minority, authoritarian regimes who ruled (and continue to rule) at the expense of their citizens.
The dark brilliance of British foreign policy was in its branding, distribution and implementation of perception over reality. As a result and until this day, the very stability of most Middle Eastern nations hinges on perpetuating a state of conflict with neighbors and inflicting abject misery on citizens.
Think about it: when is the Middle East not seething?
10 Downing Street’s love letter to the Middle East is punctuated by abysmally high Arab mortality, illiteracy and unemployment rates, as well as shockingly low education levels, median incomes and life expectancy.
Yet, authoritarian regimes across the region continue to enjoy the unqualified support of Western benefactors. The occasional United Nations resolution is little more than a sop to the offended sensibilities of citizens across the enlightened world who have come to expect a bit more from their elected governments than simply maintaining the status quo.
These good citizens grasp a fundamental truth: not all conflicts are unjust nor every peace justified. Preserving an order of oligarchs and kings that enslaves its own people is categorically immoral, requiring the response of governments founded on the rule of law and belief in the dignity of man.
However, academic elites across the salons of Western Europe cry that a more assertive policy vis-à-vis tyrannical Arab rulers is xenophobic.
This rationale for appeasement makes perfect sense if one defines xenophobia as a belief in a political system that chooses and replaces the government through free and fair elections; the active participation of the people, as citizens, in politics and civic life and the protection of the human rights of all citizens.
As such, pro-democracy movements need to be openly encouraged and funded by Western governments – as they were during the long road to freedom that culminated in the collapse of Communism across Eastern Europe.
Until then, the bigotry of low expectations with regards to Arab self-rule in the Middle East will continue to be the primary obstacle to democracy taking root here.
Begot by Harry (Paris) Ben-Zvi Midwifed by Gidon (Hector) Ben-Zvi