Saturday, February 08, 2003


Keep an eye on the rumblings of political change in the Middle East, and not simply those from bombs. Much has been said already, but still not nearly enough, about the nascent democracy movement in Iran; unfortunately, because it is, after all, a student-led movement, I cannot help but remain skeptical. Memories of Tiananmen Square are still too real. Nevertheless, there are very similar rumblings being reported down in Saudi Arabia, of all places; notably, from within within the present government itself. Very difficult, damn near impossible, to tell how much of this is diplomatic smoke & mirrors, or what, but its very worth keeping an eye on.

Two questions you might be asking yourself: Why is democracy in the Middle East such a big deal? Isn't this importing of western ideals just another form of colonialism? I can answer quickly in reverse order. The Middle East, indeed, the modern notion of the "Arab" ethnicity and the Arab "state" is already an importation. The region, let's face it, is indelibly marked by its liminal status geopolitically, and will continue to be so for the immediate future. Granted, it's not in the West's best interest, I don't think, to be the direct agents of change, no matter its desire for a change, no matter the direction; but, this certainly doesn't preclude the presence of diplomatic advocacy of liberal democracy. Why? Quite simple really, perhaps a little trite, maybe, in some circles, very cliché, and definitely not conclusive at all: no liberal democracies have ever waged war on one another. Following the century of war, and the start of another that looks very similar, it's a small, very small, measure of hope to hang one's hat on.