George W Bush
Just right now,the Arab world seems to be in a ferment.The Tunisians set the ball rolling,when they chased their erstwhile ruler,Ben Ali,into exile,after weeks of popular protests.Now it seems to be the Egyptians’ turn.In the past few days,Egyptian cities have witnessed a series of protests against the government of Hosni Mubarak,the man who has presided over Egyptian affairs for the last 30 years.Although,in a vain attempt to conciliate the protesters,the president has dissolved his government,the protests are still ongoing and have shown no sign of abating.Apparently,only the departure of the president,and his family,into exile,will appease the protesters.It is safe to say,that the other security-states in the region will be paying close attention,to events in Egypt.
No matter how these events play out,eventually,in terms of whether Mubarak is forced to relinquish power or not,citizens of other Arab states,who have been chafing under the dynastic dictatorships,that seem to be the norm in much of the Arab world,will have been emboldened,by the recent turn of events there.It is a sure bet,that Egypt will not be the last country,in the region,to experience this sort of revolutionary political upheaval,in the nearest future.If that proves to be the case,then we can say that the region has experienced the “domino effect”,a chain reaction,whereby an event,say in one country,leads to a chain of similar events.
If the Tunisian revolution is the immediate and direct impetus,for the events in the region,is it not possible that the remote cause might be the democratization push,in the Arab world,by the George W Bush administration?Following the September 11th attacks,the Bush administration,under the sway of neo-conservatives,neo-cons, concluded that failed states posed an unacceptable threat to America’s security,in that they could play host to terrorist groups.A state is regarded as failed,if it cannot fulfill international obligations to which it is signatory or guarantee security throughout it’s territory.The neo-cons concluded that such a state could be taken over by terrorist groups or at the least be in thrall to them.
While conservatives are concerned with small government,free markets and low taxes,neo-cons believe that the exercise or projection of American power can only be good and positive.Based on their analysis of failed states,and their potential for endangering America,the neo-cons decided that democratization of the Arab world was necessary,to head off the appeal and spread of anti-American terrorism.They believed that representative government,would not only make governments in the region less accommodating of terror groups,but by allowing for more freedom and rights,for the people,would be less radicalizing of it’s citizenry.
Although,contrary to the expectations of the Americans,the war on terror has proved to be a recruiting sergeant,for terrorism,it is not impossible that the vast majority of Arabs,while hating the idea of American troops on Islamic lands,were,quietly,enthused by the prospects of democracy.No matter what anyone thinks of George Bush,it would be unscientific to dismiss the link between the events in the region,today,and the Bush “efforts”,to export democracy to the Arab world,regardless of the fact that,going by the state of the Iraqi and Afghan democracies,those “efforts” could have benefited from better planning and more commitment.Through it’s policy of regime change,the Bush administration helped to demystify Arab dictators,and that may have helped Arab citizens break through the “barrier of fear.”
Here,in black Africa,we are more constrained,not so much by the “barrier of fear”,but by the “veil of ignorance”.We refuse to see or think.We are so biddable.We insist on being divided and limited,by tribal and religious differences.We are still unable to recognize that we will either swim or sink together.We fail to see that we will never make progress,while working at cross-purposes.By focusing on our differences,we are only feeding our sense of aggrievement,which finds release in ethno-religious conflicts:witness the events in Jos ,Plateau state of Nigeria.We love to play the aggrieved victim,always complaining about being mistreated:if not by other tribes and faiths,then outsiders like the World Bank,IMF,”the international system”
There is always some “bogey”,that can be used to justify our backwardness or inertia.Of course,you would expect this from a people with a legacy of irrationality,who then went on to suffer colonialism and the slave trade.However,despite the constraints placed on our development,by colonialism and the slave trade on the one hand,and the multi-ethnic nature of our societies on the other,no one is going to give us a free lunch.The challenge posed by ethnic plurality is real,but it is one we should face squarely,and overcome.We have no choice.The focus of popular protests does not have to be regime change.Since we know that people will defend their “brother”,we can focus on issues.And there are many of those.