First, not all demonstrations are revolutions, second, not all revolutions lead to democracy, and finally, not all democratic revolutions lead to any kind of constitutional democracy.
Although the dust hasn’t yet settled over the Middle East, a vague vision of what has happened and what is taking place is beginning to emerge.
Lets look at Egypt and perhaps clarify what we saw, and I do accept that hindsight gives us a better picture. Egypt has had a regime change, but not much at the street level has been anything like a push for democracy.
President Mubarak has been toppled and is now under arrest of some kind. But,
there is no evidence of any move toward legitimate democracy. Replacing Mubarak and his regime with the Egyptian army is a regime change, but not the kind envisioned by the western media.
To be sure, we saw approximately 300,000 people demonstrate for days on end in Cairo, but that number doesn’t constitute a revolution. Egypt has a population of almost 84 million people and we saw no evidence of a true mass uprising.
When the Berlin wall tumbled the citizens of Eastern Europe came out by the millions and in Russia masses of folks got out and created the conditions for huge political change. What has taken place in Egypt and other places in the Middle East is barely a whisper compared to the upheaval that took place in Eastern Europe.
In Yemen the President refuses to step down even though it’s alleged he agreed to under some deal. But again, it’s no democracy that’s going to replace him. Demonstrators are being shot and maimed at the whim of security forces. The African Union is trying to be involved, but that’s like having a second coyote guard the hen house.
These so called governments are a never-ending juggling act of balancing the interests of one medieval tribe against another. In Libya, Gaddafi has led the most powerful of his country’s tribes, but who knows who the opposition really is.
In Syria we have a ruthless dictator who is killing thousands of his own people to stay in power. Using heavy armour and weapons to suppress his people, we shouldn’t doubt his determination and ability to remain totally in charge.
In behind all this turmoil we have two countries that are perhaps at a cross roads of their existence. The first of those nations is Iran. A country run by a demented leadership that supports hanging dissidents, gays and stoning women to death in public. They have agents all over the Middle East and North Africa who are organizing and financing unrest.
With the help and support of Russia they are hell bent on developing the atom bomb and the means to deliver it. Once the United States departs Iraq its eastern neighbors next door will take over. They have real power and ambition and most Arab states are frightened of them.
The only country in the Middle East and North Africa that has a functioning democracy is Israel. A small nation surrounded by millions of people who want to annihilate them.
I watched survivors of the holocaust arrive in Winnipeg just after the war. The vision of those poor individuals will never ever leave my mind.
When they say, “never again,” I believe them.
Yet, even in Canada we have organized groups financing and opposing Israel. We have a large national Canadian union helping to finance one of the so-called aid ships. They wrap themselves in moral garments by saying they are only trying to help the unfortunate Palestinians.
There is no doubt in my mind the only beneficiaries of this misguided effort will be Hamas. A group the whole world knows as terrorists. How helping terrorists meets the needs of a union membership in Canada is something I don’t understand.
As individual Canadians there is very little we can do to make any difference. We can perhaps pray that Canada continues to deal with these situations with principle rather than popular posturing. And, we can take most things we hear on the television with a grain of salt.
We may in our hearts want these uprisings to be a demand for democracy as we know it, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Mel is a retired Director of Operations for a large Canadian corporation. He is a noted world traveller and has studied geopolitical issues for many years. His most noticeable interest is in the effects of different types of governance and organizational behaviour