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."

  • Feb 15 2011: The West cannot be an honest broker anywhere; either they've often engaged in the acts they condemn, or they were colonizers or oppressors in the places they try to help. The best countries can do is try to act responsibly and consistently, and use it's aid and influence as moderating, positive force. That does not mean that there are no noble intentions or genuine efforts at change and peace. They are, but they are so muddled in miscommunication, mixed messaging and inconsistent actions, as governments are large, large institutions, with many moving parts, that it will take a concerted, complete effort by a nation to really fire on all cylinders in order to make an impact and become an honest broker. We haven't seen that, except when nations mobilize for total war.

    Also, freedom and democracy are not the same thing, and one does not always lead to the other.
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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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    Feb 15 2011: Is it possible for "Democracy" and "Freedom" to oppose one another? When Pew Global Research did a survey of Muslims in several countries on the role of Islam in politics, the results from Egypt (90% Muslim pop.) included:

    84% of Muslims favor the death penalty for leaving the religion
    82% of Muslims favor stoning for committing adultery
    77% of Muslims favor whippings/cutting of the hand for theft
    54% of Muslims thought suicide bombing could be justified often, sometimes or rarely (8%, 12%, 34% - 46% never)
    54% of Muslims favor gender segregation in the work place
    Among those who think Islam is playing a "large" role in politics, 95% view this as a good thing

    I believe in change for Egyptians. I believe in freedom for Egyptians. I believe in democracy for Egyptians. I don't believe these can all co-exist - so I find myself, from "the West," having to choose (and ignore) some of my principles. In your words, I guess I too am being a "dishonest broker" in the search for peace in the Middle East - but I don't think I'm dishonest, and I sincerely want peace.
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      • Feb 17 2011: I agree with your first statemant concerning democracy. But there are different qualities of choices, let us say, choices which are in concordance with democracy and choices against it. It is not the same if a majority favours death penalty or condemns it. Death penalty is irreversible! And it can easily be abused, for example to reduce the number of opposite opinions.
      • Feb 18 2011: Mark, I do see a problem with having majority imposing rules on minority or individuals if these rules clearly affects individual's basic human rights. For example, leaving religion is a basic human right and you cannot punish people for exercising their freedom of choice. Percentages of votes do not mean anything in this case.

        Many countries do protect minorities (disabled, native Indians etc) because majority is not always right. Free society should be looking at balance between the needs of various groups and ensure that basic human rights and freedoms (as per United Nations declaration) are upheld. I think that is why we do not let majority vote on such things in democracies.

        In democracy, majority votes only on issues that effect everyone, there is not clear right answer and a decision has to be made e.g. voting for political parties.
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        Feb 18 2011: my Political science prof's make sure to use the term "Liberal Democracy" to reinforce the idea that its not just majority rule. It has a guaranteed protection for individual rights. That list is showing the "un-liberal" popular opinon is in muslim areas. you will find many "un-liberal" ideas in fundementalist Christan areas as well. Democrocy is a good first step. Human rights dont nesicarily happen at the same time.
      • Feb 22 2011: I disagree to yor reply given 4 days ago, Mark.

        There are priorities, one of which is human life, and therefore different qualities. Who appreciates a non-violent kind of rule like democracy, regards this a higher level of humanity than authoritarian kinds of rule. Democracy yields among others the option to change government in certain intervals, to realize new ideas a majority regards better, to correct mistakes. Death penalty e. g. is by its inhuman and irreversible character against the spirit of democracy.

        Imagine, if a country decides to abandon it for certain delicts or to totally abolish it, then from one day to the other have been executed against the dominating human opinion, irreversibly, incorrectably, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, ...

        It will, of course, be regarded a progress of humanity that this will not happen again. Experience shows that death penalty does not reduce the number of capital crimes - criminals who commit them do not seem to fear it as much as good people fear being condemned erraneously. If so, death penalty rather wastes more lifes than it saves.

        Now, to return to Taghi's main question, what about making war to hypocritically bring the gift of democracy? Many thousands of innocent people being killed, mutilated, deprived of their economic existence by a country calling itself democratic, the democratic majority there spending enormous sums that flow back to a minority which wanted and pursued this war? Ist this democracy? By the way, the same country still sticks to death penalty in some of its states.

        In my opinion, such an attitude is far from real democracy and not bringing real freedom to the "freed" countries. It is strategy right away from both concepts.
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      Feb 17 2011: A big issue I have with your thinking is your "having to choose". It is not your choice to make. It is not the the choice of the US or the West to make who will lead another country.
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      Feb 18 2011: @Phil Niles - Thank you for your contribution. I am intrigued by the statistics you present, having some difficulty reconciling them with the Egypt I know and have travelled in. Need some time to look into their origins, their accuracy, sample size of those surveyed etc.

      I am also intrigued by the following statement: "I believe in change for Egyptians. I believe in freedom for Egyptians. I believe in democracy for Egyptians. I don't believe these can all co-exist".

      I need time to digest this too.
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        Feb 18 2011: Hi Taghi! I haven't finished digesting those statistics myself. I wish I had analogous numbers for American/European views of the role of Christianity in government.

        Even if one assumes those statistics are true and that the laws will come to reflect those views, perhaps Egypt should still have a democracy nonetheless. Should the US have had a "democratic" system before there were equal rights for all? We still don't have equal rights for all today.

        I need to see this change in Egypt as a step towards a better path, not as a solution. It's progress and there's a long road ahead. I think Western governments and Westerners are a little scared of the big change - at least this one is.

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    Feb 19 2011: The U.S. foreign policy has never been one of nurturing democracy. (Indeed, the word itself was anathema to the government until World War I when it wanted to enter the war but the population was opposed. They were besieged with propaganda about fighting for democracy and the benefits of democracy - even though women could not vote.) After the U.S. emerged from World War II as the "leader of the free world," it began supporting military dictators around the globe as a way to "ensure stability," especially the stability of opening markets to U.S. companies. I am writing from Peru. South America has such a history. When the dictators were overthrown - by elections (Allende in Chile, murdered by the long arm of the CIA), uprisings, etc. - they were replaced by proxy governments,men dressed in suits, talking the talk of democracy, and doing the bidding of the U.S. government and U.S. corporations. Valuable resources are mined by US and Canadian companies, the products sent north to sustain the standard of living of developed countries. Very little is of this wealth remains in the host country.
    These are limited democracies. There were 17 political parties in the last presidential election in Peru. That's a bit of democracy run-a muck -- but there is no economic democracy, not in the First or Third Worlds. Economic democracy seems to me to be a necessary ingredient, a foundation if you will, of political democracy.

    Yes, I do think the veil was lifted off the discrepancy between words and deeds. The US talks but its actions speak to its own self interests - humanity be damned or imprisoned or tortured. The other hypocrisy exposed by the Egyptian revolution is that Israel opposed it. You would have thought that the "jewel of democracy in the Middle East" would have wanted some company.
    • Feb 20 2011: "Economic democracy seems to me to be a necessary ingredient, a foundation if you will, of political democracy."

      Sure! Wars finally result of economic motives, even if others are being given as a pretext.
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      Feb 20 2011: @Linda Nordquist - well argued and eloquently put.
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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.
  • Feb 21 2011: i think that to be so smart and good looking as u r is criminal
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      Feb 22 2011: Steve, this is one debate point I cannot argue against. Such smartness and good looks are of course reflected in your peace-loving self.
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    Feb 16 2011: @Nassim Assefi When we take politics and religion out of the equation most people get along.

    Depends what people call Freedom? Freedom brings personal responsibility for all people to act
    with restraint not imposing their views on others.

    I too am cynical about governments, yet the question is would the "crowd" act more sensibly? Not
    imposing their own interests, grabbing the riches and raping the weak?
    • Feb 17 2011: I'll try to answer your question:

      For some reasons people are rich and others are poor, some are extremely rich and many are extremely poor. But are they different races or species? Would rich or poor people act and react in different ways under equal conditions?

      I do not talk about individuals but the average of each group when I deny it. Many people would neither grab nor rape. But others, be they rich or poor, actually do, only that the rich one's grabbing and raping is not so evident and often justified by law and therefore named differently or simply kept secret.

      I do not consider this a constitutional flaw of the human species but a consequence of social evolution. Man has on the one side indispensable instincts and on the other side intelligence. Man has to learn to combine these two sides, mankind itself and each individual. Suppression is certainly not the way to achieve this, but real democracy requires, demands it.

      Does anyone have an proposal how to achieve it?
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        • Feb 22 2011: Not to be misunderstood: By "suppression" I did not mean suppression of either instincts or intellect but suppression through the ruling system which I do not regard a way to support what should be achieved.
  • Feb 15 2011: Of course it appears as if freedom is seen as something something one needs to be able to 'afford' to support. In my opinion the roots lay back in the Iranian Revolution of 1979: Since then western governments feared religious fundamentalism to rise in any situation when someone claimed his/her civil rights. I am not saying this is or has ever been a adequate attitude, but it might is an explanation why western gouvernments supportet authoritarian regiems in exchange for what they understood as 'stability'.
    As much as all this is a reason for indignation, I do not think it is something to be indignant over now: Everyone has know it for ages. Still western gouvernments beheavoir got even more scandalous after the revolution already had started: Members of the french administration retourned from vacation just before the revolution started while the rest just waited if the tunisian and egyptian people "étant nettoyé au Karcher" (to quote Sarkozy), or if they would have to congratulate.
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    Feb 15 2011: Which is better? do you prefer the US army would march to Cairo and take Mubarak down forcefully, leaving a void unready to be filled? Sanctions might have been at order, but you must consider all the alternative endings to these scenarios and their possible results, I would bet that the Arab League would disapprove of any such interference that was not first backed by the people's strong call for help. I think the will of the Egyptian people and the effects of time and the information age have done their part as they should have.
    I can only hope from the Israeli perspective that our long lasting peace agreement (which was very beneficial to the entire region) will stay in place, and the relations between our two countries will only grow stronger.
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    Feb 26 2011: This is what Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Friday 25th February 2011

    "In my opinion, any future Defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined,' as General MacArthur so delicately put it," Gates said in a speech to cadets at West Point.


    And this from British PM David Cameron in a speech in Kuwait while on an arms sales tour of the Middle East

    "Britain is prejudiced for believing Muslims cannot manage democracy"

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    Feb 25 2011: I have given thought to a plot to a movie which analyzed the aftermath of a terrorist event which left Jerusalem uninhabitable for 10,000 years. The protagonist being the athiest perpetrator of the crime. A thought-provoking movie in the vein of "Watchmen".
  • Feb 24 2011: It was not at any time abundantly clear during the outset of the protests in Egypt that events would have a happy ending as many people seem to think it has. The only template policy makers and observers in the West had for anything of this sort occuring in this region was the Iranian Revolution of thirty years ago. As you may or may not recall,this uprising of the Iranian people against a despotic monarch, the Shah, also began with pluralistic intentions.At the forefront of the popular opposition to the Shah were largely groups who were seeking a contemporary- styled democracy based upon representation, elections, and a one-man-one-vote. Just as in Egypt the military stood by and waited to see which faction would eventually win out. They however knew something the protesters did not fully appreciate: the radical Islamists were utterly ruthless and fully capable of hijacking this popular "democratic" wave in order to install a strict Islamic theocracy. Unfortunately they were aided in this by elements in the liberal Western news media who played up the exiled status of the Ayatollah; even calling him at one time "the George Washington of Iran".
    I am not attempting to excuse the frequent and egregious policy bungling of the US, especially in this region. But the interests of any given nation is not a simple and striaghtforward proposition. It is full of more of the unseen than the seen, and changes rapidly so that at any given moment the interests of a nation may undergo 180 degrees reversals,without warning or preparation.
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      Feb 24 2011: Egypt 2011 is not Iran 1979. On so many levels. Of course there's more to the scene than we see. But allow me to quote Professor Juan Cole from his "Top Five Myths about the Middle East Protest" posted on his site Informed Comment on 20 Feb 2011:

      "Yusuf Qaradawi, the 84-year-old preacher whose roots are in the old Muslim Brotherhood before the latter turned to parliamentary politics, is nevertheless no Ayatollah Khomeini. Qaradawi addressed thousands in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Friday. Qaradawi called for Muslims to fight the Taliban and al-Qaeda alongside US troops in 2001. On Friday he praised the Coptic Christian role in the Egyptian revolution and said that the age of sectarianism is dead. Qaradawi is a reactionary on many issues, but he is not a radical and there is no reason to think that either the Youth or Workers’ Movements that chased Hosni Mubarak out of the country is interested in having Qaradawi tell them what to do."
  • Feb 23 2011: The words "no longer" imply some recent change in policy. We've always been hypocritical. That being said, the idea that foreign policy can be reduced to which side of freedom you're on strikes me as silly especially in a country with such an elusive identity like the US, where I live.
  • Feb 23 2011: If Tony Blair said one day that Mubarak was "immensely courageous and a force for good", and then the next day that Mubarak's departure could be a "pivotal moment for democracy in the Middle East", it would only suggest that Tony Blair was suggesting that Mubarak was immensely courageous and a force for good, whose departure could be a pivotal moment for democracy in the Middle East, without further clarifying should Mubarak ever refuse to step down, then the staying on of such an immensely courageous Mubarak, who was a force for good, would be an aggravating moment to "demon crazy" in the Middle East, or not, as well as without specifying "good for whom and/or for what". After all, he collaborated with another politician, who sometimes exhibits the symptoms of dyslexia on TV, in lying to Brits and Americans into invading Iraq. What would any sane person expect of him?
  • Feb 23 2011: Accepting this statement as fact, how do we proceed and support the relationship?
  • Feb 23 2011: I will concede that the West has lost what little it had of the moral high ground due to recent events (though it is worth mentioning that many of the same people that denounce the west for not being active enough, especially those coming from the political spectrum, have voiced little or no such objections for this pattern of behavior over the last 30 years). But I think there is another question to be asked about the very notion the mediation is an essential part of negotiations.

    What I mean is: If two sides to any conflict are not interested in a solution, can any mediation help? And, if two sides toa conflict ARE truly interested in a solution, how essential is mediation to begin with?

    An example: In his book "Innocent Abroad", Martin Indyck mentions that the US was completely oblivious the ongoing secret negotiations between the PLO and Israel until a very late stage. The same was to be said for the Israeli-Jordanian track.
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    Feb 22 2011: Here and there in these threads we find the occasional distortion of the true nature of the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. Statistics of questionable accuracy and origin are presented to scare us into thinking we're witnessing a wave of extreme Islamic revolutions. Individuals thousands of miles away from the region are expressing opinions as to what WE need to choose for the people in the region. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said "We need to manage the change" to get the outcome we want. So far, so the same.

    These are economic revolutions above all else.The people on the streets in their millions are crying out for better jobs, better living standards, civil liberties and human rights, In Cairo's Tahrir Square Christians protected the Muslims while they prayed, the Muslims protected the Christians while they prayed. Young and old, educated and the uneducated walked together from all sections of the society. And yes, they even managed to organise and walk when the web was down. They used paper, flyers, word of mouth. And so, no, these are not Facebook and Twitter revolutions.

    This week in the midst of the chaos and bloodshed British Prime Minister David Cameron is touring the region on a trade mission. His entourage: the biggest British arms manufacturers who've been selling weapons to dictators for decades.
    So far, so the same. Blood and oil make a deadly mixture.

    • Feb 27 2011: So far you are answering your question yourself, don't you?

      But it was wise to challenge others before to post their opinions.

      By the way: I couldn't go on reading after: "David Cameron's efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East by becoming the first foreign leader to visit Cairo..."
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    Feb 19 2011: The west , in my opinion wasn't never an broker in the search for peace in the Middle East , who wanna check that should just look at the majors events after the collapse of URSS. But it's logic and 'normal' , everyone seeks just is own interest , the west in the name of peace , others in the name of ...whatever, and who's the best will take adventages , in my opinion , Israel was the best unitl now , and they still are.
  • Feb 19 2011: I agree - but then "honest" is a subjective term

    When I read the political perspectives written on Huffington Post about the recent Egyptian "revolution" it makes me cringe.

    The rampant self-interest in the perspectives screams from the page when they talk about wanting a leader to come through that supports "American interests" .

    It's definitely honest ... no doubt about it - honestly self-interested and self-serving.

    How about supporting a leader that supports democracy and social justice? Or maintaining peace with Israel?

    Neither of these would be co-incidental with the "American interests" who profit from maintaining dictatorships and selling weapons to both sides of the conflict would they?

    For example, Halliburton, a corporation that has massively profited from their close relationship to the US government would much prefer that there were "security concerns" as it drives their revenue agendas - and their large political lobbying interests.

    Western leaders have consistently demonstrated that their "self-interest" is their priority - the time has come for more "self-awareness" rather than "self-serving" and looking for win-wins that benefit the people rather than the dictators.
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      Feb 21 2011: I don't think that just western leaders are seeking their self-interest but and all leaders from Middle East..........in my view it's something normal.
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    Feb 19 2011: Unfortunately, it's never a simple brew. Of course there are human rights that should never be infringed and, obviously, a government of the people, such as democracy, is the ideal state of affairs.
    However, I must preface this with the remark that while America is certainly a world player it is not our job to topple every regime that is not a democracy; nor is this a viable or practical option for various, I think somewhat self-evident, reasons. So when it appears that America is making deals with dictators and autocratic regimes it is, I'm certain, just the most pragmatic course of action considering, as always, that these countries have resources and, curse me for saying it, leverage, all of which we need and , to procure them, there needs to be some compromise, even if that means dealing with a corrupt government.
    I think Obama, personally, and his administration generally, by degrees, would love to just jump out and say that the whole force of America is behind the people of the free movement and that...DUH! Hard handed censorship and police brutality is WRONG. But the leaders of these nations, whether through fear, culture, detachment, or distended morals believe otherwise. To openly slander these governments, by siding unambiguously with the protesters, would immediately create an enemy in a vital state especially if the revolt should fail.

    In many cases it is through the nearly red-herring of fear of terrorist regimes that creates a need for these governments who can, by proximity, directly move to ameliorate the issue. Moreover, and importantly, there is oil. If Obama were to side with the people, blatantly, and they were to lose, whose to say the now pissed off leader who once thought of America as an 'ally' would not now take measures to stifle trade? This would directly harm the American people, rocketing prices, negative world presence and so on...I do not aim to say the US has acted well or not, but, I do think that hypocrisy may be extensive
  • Feb 17 2011: A kind of answer was alredy given about 100 years ago by Ambrose Bierce:

    OCCIDENT, n. The part of the world lying west (or east) of the Orient. It is largely inhabited by Christians, a powerful subtribe of the Hypocrites, whose principal industries are murder and cheating, which they are pleased to call "war" and "commerce." These, also, are the principal industries of the Orient.
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      Feb 17 2011: To which we might add Gandhi's response to the question "What do you think of Western Civilization?"

      He responded "I think it would be a good idea."
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    Feb 17 2011: The civil society can only help. We should stop relying only on governmental powers inside or outside countries, whether east or west.
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    Feb 16 2011: I live in the land between east and west. Have walked across the west and through the east with PEACE in my heart. I happen to live in the Heartland. I believe i can be a broker for peace anywhere in the world within anyone in the world. The only thing that defines 'place' when referring to peace is 'the heart of hearts of reality' that balance within the balance of well being. East West North or South...it is all within the spiraling truth of experiencing, knowing and feeling peace within as without.

    Politics is the art of relationships. Dancing together one to one. Group to Group. Nation to nation. When WE all learn to dance wholeheartedly with all our 110 trillion cells within our body with THE CREATOR...politics will naturally flow into the reality of peace, freedom and ultimate well being of ONESELF.

    Seeking wisdom from the center of the heart of reality ....makes all things east, west, north and south trusted advisors.
  • Feb 16 2011: We all talk about the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions spreading elsewhere in the Middle East and Asia. Isn't it about time here?
  • Feb 16 2011: I think it has definitely exposed the blatant hypocrisy, not only with the West with the Middle East, but also the West with its own population. Surely a shift in the right direction.
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    Feb 16 2011: Absolutely true. But in the West, and the US in particular, if you say such things you a re labeled unpatriotic and an anti-semite. To which I say, "Remember the USS Liberty." It's not just Israel--the US Government, "in our name," is best of friends with 42 of the 44 dictators on the planet. We live in an insane asylum, the sane are the ones who are NOT in power.
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    Feb 16 2011: The People's revolution in Egypt has and will dramatically changed the course of events in the Middle East, especially with regards to the power players and the peace process, and has created now a new breed of local forces that each of the Middle East governments and the West has to give weight to, namely the Youth. The reality that unfolded following the events in Egypt and the position of the West vis-a-vis the outcome of the leadership in Egypt has changed the role and importance of the West, especially related to the peace process.
  • Feb 16 2011: Where there are geopolitical interests, there cannot be any honest broker, anywhere, period.

    The 'west', lead (read - bribed, threatened or bullied) by the 'leader of the free world' would see to it that their interests are preserved, nothing else would matter. Nevertheless, the need to appear principled and just is equally important, so as to gain consent and agreement for their actions; hence the calls for democracy and human rights.

    The assasinations of many elected leaders, eg Lumumba, Mussadeth, Allende and many others; and the support for human rights and democracy for the people when their dictators, eg Mubuto, Shah, Pinochet and many others were overthrown should surely adduce to the nefarious, hypocritical and mendacious 'principles' of the 'free world'.

    Furthermore, the people in the 'most free' country are themselves subjected to the ultimate insidous form of oppression; for thinking they are supremely free and democratic due to their electoral and capitalist systems, they do not realise that both political parties and other levers of control are subjucated by very narrow business interests and like the part of the world their country dictates to, they themselves are being exploited and oppressed, numbed by propagandist iterations by the media.

    While we rejoice for the people of Egypt and Tunisia (and others more to come), violence in the world will not trully abate until the people of the 'freest country' have their own revolution.

    The greatest perveyor of violence on earth today - my own government.
    - Martin Luther King

    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
    - John F Kennedy
  • Feb 16 2011: "For western leaders is freedom a question of strategy rather than principle?" Of course, it has been the case for decades. If it wasn't the case the US would have invaded Saudi Arabia instead of Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Feb 16 2011: As far as the main question is concerned: One does not need to be an "honest broker" to desire peace.

    "Has Egypt exposed a blatant hypocrisy in the west's relationship with the Middle East?" No, it was clear to all that the west backed the status quo.

    "A people who have finally spoken and will continue to speak. Peacefully..." Not having your foresight I'll wait and see.

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

    As for the Tony Blair quotes, there may well be a contradiction if one reads both quotes in full but in the passages that you quote there is none.

    In general do not be surprised if western politicians do what they think is best for their own constituents.

    I happen to agree that it would be better for the west to encourage democracy everywhere and deal with whatever it throws up, but in the past some leaders have, honestly, thought that real politik was the best policy at certain times. It's easy for us, keyboard warriors, to blame them when they get it wrong.