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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 think mixing the policies of governments in with the opinions of its people is a mistake.

    Yes, western (and eastern) governments have decided to go to war for economical reasons.

    Yes, other western (and eastern) governments have stood idly by.

    But both had considerable opposition in their population when the true motifs became clear, and will be met with more and more scrutiny in the future.

    Indeed the only thing keeping the worlds people from standing up as one (as we have with Egypt) is precisely the differentiation between "eastern" and "western" countries, between the polemic images of towelheads and terrorists on one side and rednecks and oil-thieves on the other. Neither of those images does the respective side justice in any way.

    If we can overcome this rhetoric, imposed upon us by our own governments and detractors, we can close the government gaps that have so far hampered us from achieving true peace, sustainability and prosperity for everyone. Auret van Heerden in his talk points out the flaws in our global supply chains, forced labour and exploitation running rampant. He also sees that governments are neither capable nor interested in changing what's happening, so he founded an NGO that exerts pressure on private industries to behave ethically. We should all follow his example, eastern, western, southern and northern alike. And it all starts here, at TED. And with people, not governments.
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      Feb 15 2011: "I think mixing the policies of governments in with the opinions of its people is a mistake." Isn't this the essence of democracy though?

      "Indeed the only thing keeping the worlds people from standing up as one (as we have with Egypt) is precisely the differentiation between "eastern" and "western" countries, between the polemic images of towelheads and terrorists on one side and rednecks and oil-thieves on the other." I think there are some deeply ingrained principle differences (gender segregation, religious freedom) in addition to the exaggerated stereotypes that prevent the "world's people from standing up as one." This is a very hard problem.

      Lastly, if people do base their deepest beliefs on opinions instead of facts (eg on wrongful stereotypes or on Allah/God), how do you plan to achieve world peace through democracy, where people would vote based on their beliefs? I support democracy, but moreover I support individualized solutions.
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        Feb 15 2011: You're right, in an ideal democracy state and people would be of the same opinion. The closest we have to that is I think the Swiss approach, which is fairly direct. Still, it's either waiting for our governments to ask our opinion or stand up and take matters into our own hands. Even if the government listens to its people, it still has national interests in mind when dealing with international issues. They are simply not equipped for global challenges, and the entire east vs west rift is certainly going to be a decisive one to tackle this century. Ideally, we'd start with ending the mentality.

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