Many observers claim that the recent overthrow of governments in
northern Africa and the Middle East will result in more liberty for individuals
across those regions. I sincerely hope this proves to be true, but history is
replete with revolutions that began as a cry for freedom against oppressive
governments but ended badly. There are no guarantees that Egyptians, Tunisians,
or others will be better off after these heralded regime changes.
We do know, however, that these conflicts in Africa and the Middle
East can be made worse if the US government attempts to intervene and support
certain candidates or factions. Such intervention would not further US interests
or win us new friends, but in fact would undermine the legitimacy of any
government that may emerge after the end of old regimes.
Just as we would resent and reject any political force that came to
power here with the sponsorship of a foreign government, Egyptians, Tunisians,
Libyans, and others are not likely to take kindly to what they view as one US
puppet being replaced by another US puppet.
It is ironic, but the US government’s endless promotion of
“democracy” overseas actually distorts and undermines democracy in targeted
The involvement of a foreign power often undermines true self-determination.
Radicals who understand this may use rising resentment and
anti-Americanism as leverage to gain power, thus defeating the stated purpose of
US involvement in the first place.