In the office I can read the news for leisure – yeah, it’s still that bad- pretending I’m working. You would think considering the nature of my job, that news doesn’t wind me up any more, especially taking into to account that I mainly evaluate coverage for financial institutions. Yet, I couldn’t help myself when I read an article in my leftist newspaper that Tony Blair, who is the special envoy for the Quartet on the Middle East mind you, argues in favour of supporting western-orientated liberals in the Arab world to prevent the Islamists from taking over, as they (Islamists) don’t want what we (the West) want. It’s not the call for support for the poor, marginalised, unorganised Arab liberals itself, it’s the reason behind the support that makes me wonder whether the man is just naïve, a big fat hypocrite or perhaps both. Blair states that he does regret the lack of support for democratic tendencies in the Arab world in the past, but I’m afraid it’s too little too late.
Chances are indeed great that a political area dominated by Islamists will leave little room for pluralism and other so-called western values and attitudes. Yet,firstly, Mr. Blair forgets that these Islamists are or have been elected in free and fair elections in Egypt and Tunisia respectively. Secondly, Mr. Blair and other Western leaders before and after him, have condoned authoritarian regimes in the region evoking anti-western sentiment amongst the population. Western-inspired and backed regime have brought the people nothing but oppression and economic misery. If liberals are not able to sell the message, the people have good reason to choose those who can and have offered support and comfort in the form of religion and practical assistance when Western- backed, non-democratically elected leaders failed to do so.
There might have been a revolution that no one had seen coming, yet the ‘special envoy’ is by no means abandoning his neo-imperialistic attitudes. He talks about what we the West want and that Islamist governments are not good for us. What about the people of the Arab World? Surely it’s up to them to decide what is good for the region?
The liberal democrats of the Arab world are the western orientated elite and are a minority. Economically and intellectually influential perhaps, yet by no means are they representative for the whole country. In a true democracy the majority rules acknowledging the wishes of the minority. However, it seems rather undemocratic to support a minority in order to suppress the wishes of a majority, whether this majority is Islamist or not.
Blair and the West have all reasons to be scared and all are free to express this fear. That he calls for assisting a liberal-democratic minority in their organisation and articulation of their vision in a new political landscape might seem like a noble endeavour. However, if he is doing it for the West’s sake rather than for the people of the Arab world, he has truly learnt nothing from the past. With his argument he leaves a big fat turd on a newly constructed democratic process and tells us what we already knew. Democracy is only that fabulous ideal when it suits that tiny minority called the Western political elite.
images left: guardian centre: subbacultcha-blog.blogspot.com