The Arab Spring

From where I sit it looks like the Arab spring that bloomed with so
much promise for millions of people has now turned into a bleak winter. It
seems that Egypt’s and Tunisia’s great revolutions have been hijacked by the
military, and the people are once more under the thumb of dictators, whose only
goal is to rule with an iron fist, and as for Libya, Moammar Gadhafi and his
goon squad still hold power.

Every day in Iran, in Syria, thousands of citizens march peacefully for
freedom, and face armed soldiers who have been given the order to shoot to
kill, yet despite all most certain death they march on, day after day. If
courage counted in the halls of power, if determination was of any value,
Syrians and Iranians would now rule themselves. Unfortunately such noble things
have little or no meaning for dictators who believe it is a sign of weakness to
lift their heavy hands off their people’s neck.

I who live in a democracy, live in a land where I can speak my mind,
where if I don’t like a politician or a government’s actions, I can speak out
and voice my displeasure, without fear, and without threat of violence, or
censure, cannot fully comprehend the frustration these good people must feel.

Freedom of choice, freedom to live one’s life without being burdened by
the heavy yoke of oppression, the freedom to speak one’s mind without threat of
disappearing, or going to jail for a long period of time, the freedom to
worship, to follow the religion of choice is the right of every man or woman on
the face of this planet, and no leader has the right to prevent this.

If there is ever to be a power shift in countries ruled by greedy
autocratic men, who want to hold on to power at all costs, then there will have
to be outside intervention, and this intervention will have to involve more
than sanctions, because sanctions are no more than a slap on the hand, and don’t
bother the leaders any more than a mosquito bite bothers us. They simple shrug
these sanctions off and go on about their business.

Sanctions, no matter how many or how strong they are never harm the
ones in power all they do is put more burdens on the poor, and make it harder
for them in their fight for freedom.

What are we in the west, we who live in freedom supposed to do? Do we
leave these poor unfortunates to fight on against impossible odds, and die in
the streets, in the alleyways like dogs, or do we go in with guns blazing, like
a cowboy from the Saturday matinees of long ago?

We’ve tried military intervention in Libya, dropped millions of tons of
bombs, blown up control and command centers, destroyed much of Gadhafi’s own
compound, yet in spite of all this effort, in spite of months of air raids,
this monster, this mad man still holds his countrymen in a cruel iron grip. A
grip that doesn’t look it will be released anytime in the near future, if at

The coalition that started out with so much bravado, so much conviction
that they are in the right, has ended up with egg on their face. The might of
Great Briton, France, and the most powerful military force on earth, the United
States has failed to bring Gadhafi to his knees. On the contrary, it has only
strengthened his determination to hold onto power.

What next? Will it be boots on the ground? Will it be a protracted war
over desert dunes, or instead, after more billions are spent fighting a war
that looks more and more unwinnable with each passing day, will the great
armies pack up their toys and run home to momma with their tails tucked between
their legs?

Do we have the right to interfere, to interject our political beliefs,
to tell others in the world how to live, and if they fail to measure up to our
standards, do we have the right to use military force to make them obey?

Unfortunately, even after we have spent billions of dollars, sacrificed
thousands of our young men to lift the yoke of tyranny from the necks of the
oppressed, there is no guarantee that the majority will want our brand of
democracy. Even if it is there will for freedom, after thousands of years of
tribalism, thousands of years of patriarchal rule, democracy, true democracy is
going to be a long time in coming. Afghanistan and Iraq illustrate this truth.

The question is, do we have the desire to continue with our crusades?
Are we willing to sacrifice more of our youth in what looks like a lost cause?

It is a lost cause, because the moment the last soldier lcomes home, the
moment the last plane flies over desert dunes, the moment the last ship sails away,
chaos, corruption, and the grab for absolute power will be the order of the
day. The rule of law, the rights and freedom of women, the right for girls to
get an education and to be treated like first class citizens instead of third
or fourth class ones, will be tossed out the window, darkness will return, and
the Arab spring will be nothing more than a footnote in obscure history books.


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Filed under Article of Interest, non-fiction

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