• >Well this was a debate I was looking forward to, but mainly so that I could read what others wrote since I don't know much about the seemingly thick political world of the middle east.So anyway, I'll get it started.My first impression is that it is easier for people to bring down the government than it is for the people to become the government (direct democracy where art thou…)With power vacuums it seems inherent that the quickest movers fill the void rather than the most beneficial.I was a little annoyed at the sparse coverage given to Tunisia and Egypt once Libya started its protests. I have much more curiosity as to what will happen now, and how the people intend to facilitate improved governance, in the revolutionized countries than in whether Libya will follow.I also think that democracy isn't such a great think to represent the will of the arab people. I think this because democracy, especially young ones, can be too easily corrupted by US foreign policy.Did you know that Egypt is second only to Israel in receiving US foreign aid ? I think this 'aid' will definitely be used by the US to influence the new leaders and corrupt the exercising of the will of the people.A dictator on the other hand is either in your pocket or not. It seems they either hate America or do as they are told.This is why I am suspicious as to whether the protests in Libya are the will of the people or US paid for agitation.Correct me if I'm off the mark but isn't Ghaddafi a fairly decent leader ? Good economy, no genocide, won his way back into the Wests goodbooks after the lockerbie bombing. But now all of a sudden the leaders who were inviting him to summits are now condemning him as a human rights abuser who needs to be invaded.Oh boy, oh boy, oh b-oil…

  • >I wouldn't exactly say he was a decent leader. He has killed a lot of innocent people, and many hundreds or even thousands more have 'dissapeared'. The current incidents in Libya are actually highly embarrasing for the US. They didn't expect it and didn't know where to turn. The US were the country most opposed to direct action. They're heavily over-extended in the region already, had only just thought they had rulers like Gaddafi under control, and are in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression so hardly want to push an oil producing country into a state of civil war.It's clear that these sorts of circumstances create instability in the short term. However I believe that partularly nations like Egypt and Tunisia have strong prospects to pull off an effective transition to democracy. Egypt is one of the modern success stories, with one of the fastest growing middle classes in the world and strong economic prospects for the future. Combine this with the new technological media that allowed such fast communication in the lead-up to the revolts and you have modern economies with modern means of communicating political messages, and plenty of potential for building healthy democracies.My worries however, don't come from potential. They come from vested interests. Sean, you already mentioned outside interests and they will be a big one. But the ones I think we should be more worried about come from within. In each country there are military men who hold power and reason enough to stage coups. For now I think it unlikely, but it remains a possibility nonetheless. The trigger of these revolts was economic rather than political: it was largely rising food prices. If we get this under control then democracy stands a chance.

  • >Ok, so the worry is that these new governments will be religious governments.Initially the people appeared too moderate and desirous of a secular govt, but there was a good comment made on the news that the most organised 'organisation' remaining after the fall of the government in Tunisia is the Muslim mosques and Imams.Not that I equate Muslim rule with extreme fundamentism, but it would be one of the many bastardized forms of democracy inherent in a representative democracy.

  • >That's true. However we Westerners have played up the threat of religiosity in governance a lot. The protests have been secular, not led by religious groups. The Muslim Brotherhood didn't do anything during the Egyptian protests. Although you could still be right in that extremism of any branch will be our greatest worry. Whether it's the army, or politically active religious groups, a series of coups are still very much possible if the new governments aren't able to deliver jobs and food fast. People tend to expect more than is possible of governments because they don't know of the obstacles they face. There's also a tendency to presume that the government must be somehow morally bad if they're not helping you. There will therefore be a lot of angry cries for a new government if and when the new governments struggle to make immediate changes e.g. in tackling corruption straight away, in jobs creation schemes that they may lack the money to create, etc etc. In fact I already heard a bus driver from Egypt callling for the return of Mubarack over a podcast. His worry was simple: under Mubarack he had a job but now he doesn't. In other words political change is great, but unless it comes with economic, and perhaps also social change, then people will not be happy with the change. Indeed these kind of angers are probably exactly what groups like the Muslim Brotherhood is waiting for.

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