I have a question: all the shiny happy people that lined up to congratulate themselves on the demonstrations-revolutions in places like Tunis and Egypt (the least oppressive regimes in a neighbourhood of blood thirsty tyrants and theocracies), all the happy kum-ba-ya that started with the Obama administration, some European governments, the media and the me-too masses in the West, how do they feel about the prospect of a massive hike in the price of oil, as the situation, happily now, spreads to the oil and gas producing countries? (Bahrein, Lybia, Iran, Algeria... And it will not stop there). Will they all finally realize that three basic truths about regime change through revolution?:
1- once you help ignite the fire, you lose control over it and it is impossible to know in what direction it will spread.
2- it is unlikely it will end up on a free and democratic government in the short term
3- the cost of dreaming freedom and democracy is dire. JW Bush and the American taxpayer can testify.
I like Nathan Sharansky. I have his picture in my desk. I believe, with him, that democracy is for everybody, not just a selected few cultures, because all human beings prefer for their children a place where thay would not be subject to the arbitrary abuses of a government without control. But I also think that democracy is not just voting. Voting is the last step, not the first one. First goes creating the institutions for a free society: the judiciary, the press, the civil service, the education system... Without that, any revolution against a dictatorship will just end up in another dictatorship, with a blood bath in the middle. That's why the Spanish transition to democracy worked. With all the anacronism, vices and unfairness of the Franco regime, the society had all of the above, a Social Security, hospitals, pensions, high literacy... And even with that, the first elections happened 2 years after the dictator died, and they were just for a parliament that had the sole task of writing a new Constitution. The first constitutional true and free elections only happened in 1979. The fiercest critics of the Bush Jr. Administration align with it in its worst mistake: believing on the cathartic power of voting, that can turn a dislocated, post dictatorship, war-enraged countries with no civil society to speak of into a democracy, that being Iraq or Afghanistan. When were the first elections in post war Germany and Japan (countries that had the basis of all the aforementioned conditions)?.
Another question, just to end: where was Mr. Obama decisively linking the aid it provided to Mubarak's Egypt to steps that built that civil society?. In his speech in Cairo University, when he was Mubarak's best friend, did he praise Western democratic values, providing support to groups fighting for human rights, the fair treatment of women, gays, religious minorities, or did he praise Islam as the religion of love?. What conditions are the US and European governments attaching to the aid still provided today to countries like Morocco?. Do they require that a portion of the money be used on creating the seeds of a freer society and make the contributions subject to steps of the regime to open up little by little, precisely to avoid a revolutionary process and promote an orderly transition?. I do not think so. We might see Obama soon in Casablanca University praising the infinite wisdom of the king and the admirable role madrassas are starting playing there.