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Taghi Amirani

Filmmaker - TED Senior Fellow, Amirani Media

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The west can no longer claim to be an honest broker in the search for peace in the Middle East.

Has Egypt exposed a blatant hypocrisy in the west's relationship with the Middle East? For decades the west has propped up and funded dictators in the region, preferring 'stability' to democracy in order to protect its own interests. All at the expense of the human rights of the people in the region. A people who have finally spoken and will continue to speak. Peacefully, elegantly and in a highly sophisticated manner.

For western leaders is freedom a question of strategy rather than principle?

A quote from Gary Younge in The Guardian: "Last week Tony Blair said Mubarak was "immensely courageous and a force for good". On Sunday he said Mubarak's departure could be a "pivotal moment for democracy in the Middle East". The man charged by the major world powers with bringing peace to the region can't make up his mind whether he is for despotism or democracy from one week to the next."

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    Feb 15 2011: I'm cynical about governments doing anything in the foreign policy sphere that is for any reason other than to advance their own interests. The West is no better or worse than the East, except for hypocrisy--the rhetoric in the US and UK convinces many of their globally uninformed citizens that we are taking action for morally sanctimonious reasons rather than the real reasons for why we do things (China has no such pretenses). We may call it "human rights" or "democracy," but as far as I can tell, short of genocide (e.g. Rwanda, Bosnia), the West is unlikely to intervene unless some precious resource or geographically strategic location is at risk. The US is in no position to be an objective diplomatic force in the Middle East, but as the world's only super power, it can have major influence on the course of events. Theoretically, the West could be a force for the promotion of civil society and populist movements, but then they may find themselves in the undesirable situation of a Hamas or Hezbollah winning power by popular vote. Foreign intervention is tricky business, and US Citizens seem to only have short-term memory when it comes to the impact of their government's actions. I can imagine it's the same in the UK. I highly recommend Stephen Kinzer's book Overthrow, the story of the US's disastrous attempts to create regime change in 14 countries (from Hawaii to Iraq). Iran is still suffering big time from the CIA coup in 1952 to unseat our only democratically elected leader to date. That relatively small intervention (it took a month or so to pull off) still has major ripple effects in MidEast politics today.
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      Feb 16 2011: Well said, Nassim.

      Truman era US diplomat to the Soviet Union George Kennan wrote in 1948; " We have 50% of the world's wealth and 6% of the population. Our policy should be to develop relationships that maintains that disparity."

      Given what's evolved in US foreign policy since, Kennan's brutally frank advisement was well heeded and embraced.

      Pretense to spreading democracy, saccharine enabler to the body of lies, (thank you David Ignatius), is the choke point for anyone inclined to more than window-shop the history of US foreign policy.

      Honest broker? Please.
    • Feb 17 2011: "Iran is still suffering big time from the CIA coup in 1952 to unseat our only democratically elected leader to date."

      Isn't this already an adequate answer to Taghi's question: "For western leaders is freedom a question of strategy rather than principle?"
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      Feb 17 2011: You state "Foreign intervention is tricky business". Can you give even one example where it can be proven to have worked?

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