Freddie Michell questions how we can expect freedom in the Middle East without first achieving political stability
Stability brings prosperity, and prosperity encourages freedom. This basic statement highlights a sad truth: when you topple a dictator, democracy does not emerge forth fully formed. This is why we must consider the implications of intervention on the side of popular revolt against dictators, and whether or not the West continues to come in on the wrong side.
When Muammar Gaddafi was found in a drainage pipe on 20th October 2011, the world had high hopes. Western intervention had led to a clear victory and a dictator had fallen. However, the rebel groups united in their hatred of the regime suddenly had no one to fight. And now, we are feeling this affect more than ever.
You cannot remove a dictatorship and in the same breath bring forth a democracy
Today, Libya seems to be a place of extremes. The civil war has left guns readily available and rival groups fighting for control, while a lack of infrastructure and bureaucracy has left no money to finance the government. It’s effectively become the ‘Wild West of the Middle East’, fanning the flames of conflict across the region – not exactly the utopia of Middle Eastern democracy borne out of Western intervention for which some hoped.
500 years ago, England had a monarchy that summarily killed people with no trial. We had a parliament largely ruled by the monarch and a justice system in which favouritism was both normal and acute. Yet, our country has changed beyond recognition: our parliament is unhindered and our democracy so open that UKIP is allowed to exist (much to the frustration of the three leading parties).
In the past, our monarchy violated many of the rules of morality that are now cornerstones to our democracy. They were, in essence, dictators authorised by heavenly patronage and brute force. Yet if our country had received such a radical and violent change of leadership, as seen in most of the Middle East during the Arab Spring, surely we would not expect a happy ending?
Dictators – even those who ruled over England with a mythically benevolent hand – are not kind or just. Their mere existence limits freedoms. Sadly, you cannot remove a dictatorship and in the same breath bring forth a democracy. So, before calling for the downfall of the obvious bad guy – although, I’m always confused as to who that is – perhaps we should think about what will come next.
So, once again: stability brings prosperity, and prosperity encourages freedom. Without stability we would not have the democracy we have today. So, if intervention is required, we should support the ruler. No matter how cruel and merciless that may seem, it will provide the stability from which freedom, and thus democracy, can eventually grow.
Featured image credit: Magharebia