Stop It! The West Didn’t Cause The Middle East Mess
Autocracy is a function of Middle Eastern culture and Islam. So let’s put the blame where it belongs.
Feb 22nd 2011
British Prime Minister David Cameron just gave a speech in Kuwait where he proclaimed that the West has contributed to Middle Eastern instability by backing autocratic regimes. The Left has been arguing this for years. And the media has been picking up on this notion of western “guilt” as they cover the dramatic events in the region.
I understand why Cameron said what he said on a political level: he’s trying to get out in front of change that seems to be sweeping the Middle East. But the claim is absolutely ridiculous. Repression and autocracy are organic to the Middle East. Care to read a history book about what the place was like, 150 years ago, before oil was discovered? Let’s just say it was not a pretty place. A British colonial presence actually made it a far more humane place.
Repression and autocracy are not western imports. No one can seriously claim that the involvement of the west in the region has made the place worse. Indeed, the more western a regime in the region is in its cultural and political orientation, the more free it tends to be. Israel stands out in this regard. But even when you look at the other countries the same holds true. Kuwait or Iran? Bahrain or Libya? The more western, the less repressive. A strong western influence means liberalization...
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