Democracy should be the gold standard for states-every single person should enjoy a democratic government elected by and for the people; a government that respects and complies with the social contract that Rousseau theorized about in 1762.
The US has been playing with fire throughout its diplomatic history-Democrats and Republicans alike. While fostering relations with dictators and autocrats, they’ve been alienating the people whom these rulers have consistently violated their human rights. Obviously, Saudi Arabia, the most conservative and human rights violator regime in the Middle East, enjoys great diplomatic relations with America. It is noticeable that the US turns a blind eye on this issue because they’d rather have an autocrat ally than an autocrat enemy (Ahmadinejad, Hussein) that will work with the West in fighting extremism and Islamist parties, that will counter Iran’s influence in the region and, of course, that will help in keeping oil prices at a reasonable level.
Tunisia has been sort of an ally to the west. The government fought along Bush’s “war on terror,” and also, was against extremist Islamism and Islamic parties. But they were awfully corrupt and took away from its citizens the basic freedoms. Now that Dictator Ben Ali was overthrown, there’s a fine line that the citizens of this North African country should draw: have real democracy or let their country be ruled by Islamic fundamentalists-which could turn the nation into chaos, threaten the fragile progress in the fight against terrorism, and might even complicate the peace process in the Middle East (domino effect?).
Essential to this peace process is Egypt, who is facing a dangerous situation, with a government that seems unable to find a solution to the massive protests in which people are demanding the resignation of Dictator Hosni Mubarak-who has been ruling under an “emergency law” for over 30 years.
Egypt has been a key ally for the West and Israel. It is essential in the stability of, not only the Middle East, but also the world (Suez Canal). Hence why the US government has been calling Mubarak a key partner in the peace process, along with Israel. It is also the world’s most populous Arab nation.
With the fragile government of Cairo stumbles, the Islamic Muslim Brotherhood, which enjoys a great deal of popularity, could take advantage of the circumstances and rise to power, provoking unthinkable and dangerous scenarios in the different fronts in which Egypt has been key to stability-Hamas would benefit from this without a doubt.
The difference between Egypt and Tunisia is, though, that at least in Cairo there’s a visible opposition leader, former atomic watchdog ElBaradei, who could work towards building a democratic state and keeping the bridges built with the West to advance in the peace process, countering Iran’s terrorist efforts in the region, and help with the “Palestinian issue.” If the Muslim Brotherhood gets hold of power, than the story would be different and the West might lose the support of the first Arab country that made peace with Israel and currently blocks the smuggling of weapons into Hamas controlled Gaza.
Hopefully, the people of these battered countries will not see the US and its allies as their enemies who supported these dictators for peaceful and strategic reasons-though at the expense of democracy-but rather as partners in a new path that began in Middle East over a year ago with the massive protests in Iran that took place after the fraudulent election of autocrat Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
It is also a lesson that the West should learn about autocrats: sooner or later the relinquish power, but the people will always be there.