Friday, January 28, 2011

Embracing Democracy, Wherever It May Be

Let me start off by saying I understand, and am deeply grateful for, the luxury I have as a citizen blogger to be able to look at things solely in terms of principle. I'm not responsible for anybody's strategic interests and I like it that way. I know that people in public office sometimes must walk a tightrope between commitment to a philosophy they may believe in deeply, and the need to protect the interests of the nation they lead.

Now I'm going to make use of that luxury.

It is time for America to stop propping up corrupt dictatorships. It is time to support popular movements for democracy wherever they occur. I know that it's scary. I know that a dictatorship like that of Hosni Mubarak is something that American officials feel safer with because it can be controlled, it can be kept on a leash in a way that a democratic Egypt could not be. Maybe a democratic Egyptian government wouldn't be quite so cooperative in negotiations with Israel. That must be frightening to an American president. But I deeply believe that America can work with a democratic Egypt in peaceful ways.

It's long past time for the Mubarak regime to go, for ordinary Egyptians to stop fearing their own police, for a real election to take place in that country. Egyptians deserve a parliament that represents them in all their diversity of opinion, and a government that works, not for its own enrichment, but for the best interests of all citizens.

And it is long past time for American leaders to embrace a broad, courageous vision of democracy, not as a privilege for the well-off few, but as a fundamental right of all peoples.

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