(Page 2 of 2)
Goldstone further contends that Lebanon, Algeria, the Palestinian Authority, Morocco, and Iraq remained relatively calm largely because their peoples are fatigued by their own recent political upheavals.
Goldstone also offers an interesting analysis of the feckless role that the United States has played in the region helping to fuel the revolts. U.S. foreign and military aid enables dictators to bribe opponents for a while but ends up making them appear as U.S. stooges to their people. Once the despots are dependent on U.S. largesse, our government demands that they begin to liberalize. This weakens the fear that underpins their regimes and so they fall. “In times when the United States seemed satisfied with lip service regarding protection of human rights and democratization,” writes Goldstone, “the United States came to be viewed by domestic elites and popular groups as an insincere and untrustworthy advocate of popular rights and national self-determination.” In the wake of the Arab Spring, that appraisal sounds all too right as the Obama administration floundered about seeking haphazardly to join a parade that had already taken off.
So are Arab countries perpetually doomed to rule by autocrats? Not necessarily. The overall trend is for more and more countries to become and remain free. According to the think tank Freedom House, only 29 percent of the world’s countries were free in 1973, 25 percent were partly free, and 46 percent were not free. By 2013, 46 percent were free, 30 percent partly free, and 24 percent not free.
The taste of liberty, however fleeting, sharpens the appetite for more. Eventually, Arab peoples will depose their dictators and join the growing ranks of free countries.