February 5, 2011

Democracy or Extremism? Political Ideals and Egypt

The US has a pretty confusing--if not outright contradictory--history of foreign policy. On the surface, we supposedly are the champions of democracy, human rights, and freedom. Right? Those are the ideals that the nation was founded upon, and they continue to play a primary role in the political rhetoric and overall idealism of its people.

However, the US also has a history of making alliances with autocratic regimes and/or dictatorships that serve particular short-term interests (Somoza, Pinochet, the Shah of Iran, the Saudi regime, and of course Mubarak in Egypt). These alliances, while politically expedient, haven't exactly lead to the greatest results--and the histories of Latin America, to name one regional example, speak quite clearly to that. Such decisions also stand in pretty stark contrast to our supposed ideals about governance and freedom.

Anyway, what's somewhat disturbing and shocking is the sheer number of people calling for the continued support of the Mubarak regime, which is a continuation of the same kind of international policy that we have relied upon for far too long. What's this all about? Fear? A belief in the whole "clash of the civilizations" scheme that old Sam Huntington used to peddle? Why have so many politicians, pundits, and citizens of the US (and the west in general) been so hesitant, so wary about the events in Egypt? Are their worries grounded, or are these folks overreacting a bit? And what about all of those American ideals about democracy, human rights, and political freedom?

Enough questions, how about some more Zizek:

No comments: