Does The West Have An Obligation To Promote Middle East Democracy?
Is The West Obligated To Help Build Middle East Democracy?The current turmoil in Egypt, the ongoing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and the epic struggle between Israel and Palestine has many in the West preparing to wash their hands of the region. But former Prime Minister Tony Blair advocates in The Guardian that it is the obligation of the West to help these nations build more democratic and effective governments.
“Egypt is the latest reminder that the region is in turmoil and won’t leave us alone, however we may wish it would. Disengagement is not an option, because the status quo is not an option. Any decision not to act is itself a decision of vast consequence,” Blair asserts.
Democracy In Itself Is No Panacea To Region’s Problems
Blair notes that one of the mistaken assumptions made by young Egyptians following Hosni Mubarak’s departure was that with democracy would come stability and prosperity.
“But democratic government doesn’t on its own mean effective government. Today, efficacy is the challenge. When governments don’t deliver, people protest,” he says, adding that a “protest is not a policy” and if “governments don’t have a clear argument with which to rebut the protest, they’re in trouble.”
Zhang Yi of The Global Times writes in an article concurring with Blair’s analysis that while democracy may be the trend in global politics, the different religious factions and a lack of checks and balances make establishing democracy in the Middle East a complicated endeavor. And, he says, democracy in itself is not a panacea.
Yi views Egyptian society as one which “hasn’t maturely developed in terms of the economy and people’s livelihoods” and without visible improvements in citizen’s standard of living, any respect for democracy will only turn to disillusion.
This was the painful lesson learned by the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi – and the West. Blair contends Europe and the US should engage the new leaders in Egypt to ensure that the necessary changes are made to build the economy upon which a healthy democracy can be based.
Blair believes engagement is also required across the Middle East. Short-term solutions are not sufficient because the Middle East is in the middle of a “long haul transition.” But, it is a transition that cannot be ignored and while difficult and time-consuming, Blair concludes: “We feel it should be someone else’s job to help sort it out. But it is our job. This struggle matters to us.”